Surge in STDs as 8,000 new cases of chlamydia diagnosed
IRELAND is in the grip of an alarming surge in sexually transmitted diseases – with the number of syphilis cases alone having soared by 88pc in just five years.
All five most prevalent STDs – HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes and chlamydia – have significantly increased in terms of annual detection rates since 2013/2014.
The latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre figures revealed the number of cases of gonorrhoea has soared from 1,282 in 2013 to 2,407 last year, a worrying 88pc increase.
HIV cases, which had been steadily falling over the previous decade, have also shown an alarming increase.
In 2013, Ireland recorded 339 cases of HIV – but that soared to 530 last year, an increase of 56pc.
The number of chlamydia cases has also soared, up from 6,246 in 2013 to 7,942 last year.
Chlamydia remains, by overall detection rate, Ireland’s dominant STD.
Herpes detection rates also rose over the same five-year period from 1,127 to 1,594.
- Read More: 'After my 'chlamydia surprise' I am now not ashamed to say I get tested regularly for STIs'
Major concern is also focused on syphilis – once one of the world’s most-feared STDs – which has also witnessed a significant increase in detection rates. In 2014, there were 272 cases of syphilis confirmed in Ireland, but that soared to 512 last year, an 88.2pc hike which is the biggest single increase of any STD.
One Irish hospital even dealt with a case of syphilis which had reached its tertiary, or final, stage – with severe medical issues for the patient involved.
The traditional spike in STD detection rates occurs between January and March, after the Christmas party season.
In some cases, the rate of STD detection and treatment is double in January and February what it is for the rest of the year.
Sexual health centres across Ireland are now increasing their screening hours and have urged people concerned about possible infections to get checked as soon as possible.
- Read More: 'I was just 15 when I contracted an STI. I was a frightened teenager with little support' - James Kavanagh
Of greatest concern for the HSE is that STD detection rates have been increasing despite major public health and education campaigns.
HIV Ireland executive director Niall Mulligan warned last year the detection rates were a matter of major concern going forward.
“It is very disconcerting that we are almost becoming accepting of this,” he said.
Mr Mulligan said the figures emerging from 2018 were the worst he had seen.