Canada: STDs on the Rise in Toronto
June 16, 2004
A new study of communicable diseases in 2002 and trends from 1992-2002 reports that STD transmission in Toronto is increasing, and part of the problem may be that people are not consistently practicing safe sex. Globalization, immigration and cuts in education and social programs may also be contributing to the rise of STDs, said the study.
In Toronto in 2002, more than 600 HIV cases were diagnosed -- an increase of almost 50 percent from 1998. Sixty-one percent of new infections were found in the gay community.
"Immigration patterns have changed. People who are foreign-born might come infected with TB already, and similarly with HIV," said Dr. Rita Shahin, acting director of communicable disease control for Toronto Public Health, and the study's author. She noted that Toronto's TB rate is four times higher than anywhere else in Ontario and twice that of the rest of Canada.
In response to the increase in HIV in the gay community, a coalition of HIV/AIDS groups from across Canada is launching a new prevention campaign. "The Provocative Gay Men's HIV Prevention Campaign" was introduced Tuesday in Vancouver and is to be kicked off today in Toronto.
Health professionals, Shahin said, have to find new ways to educate about the dangers of unsafe sex. "It's difficult to sustain the idea of using [a condom] every time," she said. In addition, "People need access to affordable housing, enough income for food and medical care. There needs to be a support system for people," Shahin said. She added that Toronto's upsurge in STDs is consistent with trends in other large North American cities.
06.16.04; Melissa Godsoe
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.