Friday 20 July 2018

Report shows surge of sexually transmitted diseases in Ireland

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Ireland has witnessed a surge in sexually transmitted diseases with the peak transmission period of the Christmas and New Year party season still to report.

Rates of HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Herpes and Chlamydia are now soaring despite repeated sexual health education campaigns.

Traditionally, the highest detection rate of sexually transmitted infections (STI) are in January and February after the Christmas and New Year party season.

In some cases, the rate of STI detection and treatment is double in January to March for what it is for the rest of the year.

The latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) data confirmed that rates of all major STIs have dramatically increased from 2012-2016.

Over that period, there has been an increase in detection of HIV (+51pc), Syphilis (+11pc), Gonorrhea (+53), Chlamydia (+10pc) and Herpes (+21pc).

HIV cases have soared from 339 in 2012 to 511 in 2016.

Syphilis, which had once been reduced to minimal levels, has witnessed a worrying re-emergence since 2011 with cases rising from 404 to 450.

The indications are that new cases of the disease, one of the most feared infections of the Middle Ages and Victorian eras, continue to be presented this year.

However, Chlamydia remains Ireland's dominant STI.

In 2013, Ireland recorded 6,247 cases of the disease but that has risen to 6,896.

Anecdotal evidence is that disease detection rates will increase again in 2017.

Chlamydia poses major concerns because, if left untreated for extended periods, it can have long-term health consequences.

High levels of Herpes and Gonorrhea have also been confirmed.

Cases of Herpes soared from 1,127 in 2013 to 1,369 last year.

Similarly, cases of Gonorrhea have spiraled, soaring from 1,282 in 2013 to 1,958 last year

Sexual Health Centres across Ireland are now increasing their screening hours and urged people concerned about possible infections to get checked as soon as possible.

HSE public health officials also appealed to people to follow safe sex guidelines.

"Anyone concerned about a possible infection should cease all sexual activity until they are tested," an official warned.

Public health experts warned that early detection is the key to more effective treatment and the avoidance of potentially serious long-term health consequences.

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