CBC (Hamilton, Ontario) (10.31.2013)
A recent CBC article reveals that Hamilton, Ontario, is seeing falling HIV rates, but continues to see climbing chlamydia and syphilis case numbers. Last year, the city recorded its highest chlamydia and syphilis rates, and its 2013 statistics are on target to beat those numbers.
According to public health data, Hamilton reported 1,622 chlamydia cases in 2012, which made it the city’s leading STD. “It’s by and large our most common [sexually transmitted infection],” said Julie Emili, an associate medical officer of health in Hamilton. She added that chlamydia rates have risen sharply in the last five years.
Several groups of people have contributed to the increased rates. Teenagers make up the largest group in new chlamydia cases, which tends to be the usual case, according to Emili. “Teenagers in general don’t think one or two steps ahead,” she said, noting condom use is down in this population. Another group that has seen an increase in chlamydia cases is divorcees. Emili noted that when people in this group begin dating again, they are less likely to use condoms, which leads to increased infection rates. Internet connections also contribute to higher STD rates. “Social media is affecting how people meet and casual relationships,” she said.
Hamilton reported 28 syphilis cases in 2012, which is a 60-percent increase from 2011. The city reported 18 new cases in the first half of 2013. Other STDs rate, including gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C remained relatively constant in 2012.
HIV rates, by contrast, have been declining in the region for the past 10 years. Last year, Hamilton recorded only 16 new cases, 15 of which were men, and 10 of which were men between 40–59 years old. “We hope it’s because we have better education out there,” said Emili. “Though we’ve never had tons of HIV cases.”