Irish Examiner (Ireland) (03.10.13)
According to Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Agency’s statistics, approximately 60 percent of all new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur in the 20–29 age group, while 25 percent of early syphilis cases are among people ages 25–29. People have more partners, drink more alcohol, take more risks, and take part in sex at younger ages, often not using protection. Thus, STD rates are climbing, and young people are especially vulnerable.
Between June and September of 2012, for 20–29-year-olds, chlamydia incidence increased from 776 cases to 914; gonorrhea incidence also increased from 148 cases to 165. According to STI Specialist Dr. Derek Freedman, attitudes toward sex and infection risk can differ from one person to another. An STI, he warns, “is the gift which keeps on giving.”
Between 2010 and 2011, Ireland recorded an increase of more than 12 percent in STIs as a whole, with an increase of more than a third in gonorrhea cases, plus a steady increase in genital herpes. Chlamydia is the most common STD, accounting for nearly 50 percent of cases. Dr. Freedman provided reasons that can be attributed to social trends and attitude changes. Likewise, Mary Horgan, consultant in infectious diseases at the STI clinics at Cork’s South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, which sees approximately 8,300 people annually and receives approximately 3,000 calls per month, stated, “The two big infections we consistently see are genital warts and chlamydia in males and females, predominantly in young people.”
The overall increase in STI diagnoses also may be due to improved screening and more modern, sensitive, and sophisticated STD testing, meaning identification of more cases. Freedman warned that they are seeing syphilis, gonorrhea, and lymphogranuloma venereum in men who have sex with men. He stated that unprotected sex is too common and is a risk for HIV infection. Freedman urged anyone who thinks they may be at risk to get screened. Persons may have no signs or symptoms, but the only way they can find out if they are infected is by having a full set of screening tests. For more information, visit http://www.hpsc.ie.