Government takes further action as syphilis cases rise in part of Ireland

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The government is injecting 3 million euros for the national deployment of an online screening service for sexually transmitted infections after a recent epidemic of syphilis in the country.

The latest reports from the Health Protection Monitoring Center (HPSC) show registered syphilis cases are up 41% from the same period last year.

So far this year, 605 cases have been reported – 14 new cases last week.

Minister of State for Public Health Frank Feighan has announced funding of € 3 million for the nationwide roll-out of an online sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening service.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, he said: “The service is extremely important in the context of the syphilis epidemic and integrating an online STI testing service with established public STI clinics is one way. effective in increasing the access and capacity of STI testing services. “

The latest HPSC report shows that the eastern part of the country has once again recorded the highest number of syphilis cases.

The data show that five cases were recently reported in people aged 30 to 34 and one case in 15 to 19 year olds.

The other cases are spread over all the other age groups, with the exception of those under 14 and over 60.

Men represent 13 of the recent recorded cases with an infection recorded in a woman in the past week.

Men also represent 555 of the 605 cases recorded since the start of the year.

Recent headlines have been inundated with information that cases of syphilis in Ireland are on the rise, especially in the east of the country.

Dr Derek Freedman, a genitourinary consultant based in Ranelagh, Dublin, spoke to the Irish Mirror in August about the latest news and why this time of year sees more infections reported.

Although attention was drawn to the current peak, Dr Freedman said: “This is nothing new, there has been a steady increase across the world in the number of syphilis infections over the past 8 years. past 10 years, and Ireland is no exception. “

Discussing the potential reasons for this steady increase, Dr Freedman said he believes when people know that there are effective treatments for HIV / AIDS and the chances of catching or transmitting HIV are very high. lower when on treatment or when taking PrEP. to avoid catching it, then, people’s attitude towards other STIs relaxes.

“It mainly comes from people who are not as afraid of HIV / AIDS as they used to be. They know it’s now treatable and if it’s treated properly and the viral load is undetectable, you can’t pass it on.

“It also stems from the fact that, if treated early, life expectancy and quality are not substantially different from normal.

“People are hanging on to that, and the fact that you can prevent transmission to someone you might meet if you are on treatment, with PrEP now widely available to prevent getting HIV, that leaves a lot with. a “party attitude” in terms of sex. “

The recent spike in cases in Ireland also occurs around the same time each year, according to the Dublin-based consultant.

He sees a lot of cases towards the end of the summer – after the holidays – and around Christmas, and says that with a lot more risk taking, there are a lot more tests to be tested and more cases are then detected.

In a new warning to Irish Singletons, Dr Freedman said: “These infections are silent and there are so often no signs or symptoms of infection.

“The only way to be sure you don’t have an STI is to get tested, every time you’ve taken a risk or started with a new partner. “

One of the most important things Dr Freedman talked about was the idea of ​​’quality sex’ – ‘someone you know, someone you love, and someone to be pleasant to talk to. ‘to be “.

Many cases arise from “relaxed sex and sex parties with people you don’t know, and alcohol”.

“The opportunities to catch and spread infections have been improved by dating apps like Tinder and Grindr – it’s so easy to meet someone,” he said.

“I often meet people who have been on a date with Tinder or Grindr after suddenly realizing ‘what have I done?’ and feel the need to get tested.

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