Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit sees four to five times increase in annual number of reported syphilis cases

Before 2019, the number of syphilis cases in the region averaged less than 10 cases per year but increased to 50 cases in 2021

From 2019 to 2021, the health unit has seen a significant increase in STIs in Simcoe Muskoka, including a four- to five-fold increase in the annual number of reported syphilis cases.

Before 2019, the number of syphilis cases in the region averaged less than 10 cases per year but increased to 50 cases in 2021.

The number of gonorrhea cases reported each year also increased from 120 in 2020 to 265 in 2021.

Although the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says that sex and sexuality are important aspects of health, they remind you that it is essential to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to get tested if you are sexually active or think you have the virus.

“The increase in cases of STIs is a concerning trend that we are not only seeing locally, but also across the province,” says SMDHU Deputy Medical Officer of Health Dr. Colin Lee. “It is important to keep in mind that access to healthcare during the pandemic has been limited and the number of cases may be higher than we think.

Many STIs can go undiagnosed because people don’t always have symptoms or recognize that the symptom is due to an STI and the only way to find out is to get tested.

The health unit strongly encourages anyone who is sexually active, has had a new partner or multiple partners in the past two years, has had unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex, or has symptoms of an STI to contact their health care provider.

Screening for STIs may include a urine test for chlamydia and gonorrhea and a blood test for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B and C, depending on risk factors. Most STIs can be treated with free medications available through your health care provider.

“You can reduce your risk of getting an STI by making informed decisions before you have sex, such as limiting your number of sexual partners, talking to your partner and asking them to get tested, using condoms and barriers, and be aware of how alcohol and other drugs can affect sexual decision-making,” a Health Unit press release reads.

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