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International News

Canada: Safe-Sex "Complacency" Boosts STDs

May 1, 2008

Recently released data show rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among Ottawa females ages 15-24 rose 89 and 88 percent respectively from 1997 to last year. For males the same age, rates of chlamydia increased two-fold and gonorrhea rates more than three-fold. Among young gay men, syphilis cases have spiked.

The city's outgoing chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Salisbury, said the rising STD rates indicate that safe-sex messages are not getting through to young Ottawans. "Chlamydia and gonorrhea are leading-edge indicators, and I think this shows that, to a certain extent, we've become complacent about safer sex," he said of the city report.

Of particular concern is that rises in these infections are precursors to elevated rates of HIV, said Salisbury.

But the data also show that a testing campaign launched by the public health department in 2005 is starting to pay off. The campaign has used ads on buses, as well as in newspapers and schools, to urge people to get tested for STDs. Of young people tested, most said they did so after talking to a friend or seeing the advertisements on buses.

Each year between 2005 and 2007, 23 percent more people were tested for chlamydia and 11 percent for HIV than in previous years. The report recommends that the campaign, due to expire at the end of this year, continue with a revamped approach in 2009.

"We've lost that message [of safer sex] somehow, and we have to get it back," said Salisbury. "What we found is campaigns like this are helping get that message back out there."

Back to other news for May 2008

Adapted from:
Ottawa Citizen
04.30.2008; Jake Rupert

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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