August 7, 2007
Gonorrhea reports have increased in Montreal by 65 percent over the last five years, according to National Public Health Institute of Quebec researchers. Worse, there was a 40 percent increase in 2006 alone, when there were 1,299 gonorrhea infections. Institute researchers noted "the control of this infection must constitute a public health priority by the mere fact of its prevalence in certain populations and its consequences on fertility."
Prevalence is greatest among men ages 20-29 and women ages 15-24. And 30 percent of those infected with gonorrhea had strains that resisted treatment with regular antibiotics, compared to 7 percent resistance in 2004.
Even the higher case counts are likely to be an underestimate of the true number, officials said, because private-practice doctors may not report cases or may treat patients without lab work.
According to data from L'Actuel, a Montreal AIDS clinic, there were more than 400 syphilis reports in the city last year. "To give some perspective, we had three cases in the entire province in 1998. And more than half the people who contract syphilis are HIV-positive," said Dr. Rejean Thomas, L'Actuel's founder.
"Clearly we are seeing a major increase in high-risk sexual behavior," said Thomas, who worried the infections could be a harbinger for increased HIV infections. Public health experts cite as reasons for the increase in gonorrhea reports cultural factors, hedonism, and a flagging commitment to STD education. In primary and secondary schools, health and hygiene lessons have recently been merged into other classes, Thomas said. "We have created an entire generation of people who don't know about AIDS."