Canadian STD Rates Rise With the Decline of Safe Sex Campaigns
Even though HIV/AIDS has the "lion's share" of attention, Canadian infection rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and human papillomavirus are "soaring," the Toronto Globe and Mail reports. According to a study appearing in the Aug. 17 issue of the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, infection rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have increased by more than a third over the past three years. The rates are highest among those aged 15 to 19, the study found. Dr. Thomas Wong, chief of Canada's division of sexual health promotion and STD prevention and control, said, "This younger generation is growing up without seeing friends dying of AIDS, and that seems to be making them complacent." For example, among teenage girls, the chlamydia rate is 1,200 per 100,000, and the rate is 212 per 100,000 for teenage boys, or six times the rate among the general population, the Globe and Mail reports. Among the "post-AIDS explosion generation," the rate of gonorrhea is about three times that of the general population, with a rate of 95 per 100,000 for teenage girls and 40 per 100,000 for teenage boys. Syphilis infections have also increased, with 176 cases reported in 2000 compared to 116 in 1997. The study said that the figures are in "stark contrast" to drops in STD infection rates seen during the 1990s cited to safer-sex education campaigns. David Patrick, director of epidemiology at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control and the study's lead author, said, "Throughout the '90s we observed better controls, but in recent years we're seeing the numbers bounce back across the spectrum." The Globe and Mail reports that the "majority" of Canada's provinces do not fund sexual health campaigns and many schools are "cutting back" their sex education programs. Patrick added that sex education should be "more frequent" and targeted at "young people." He added, "I think [the study] should spark a major renewal in investment in public health messages. Governments aren't investing in education in a meaningful way anymore" (Picard, Globe and Mail, 8/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.