Prince Edward Island (PEI) health officials are encouraging more STD testing, especially among men.
According to Dr. David Reid of the University of PEI Student Health Center, "on average about 80 or 90 percent of the students I see are female." And while their visits initially may not be for STD testing, just getting these women in the door increases the odds they will be screened.
Dr. Chris Hoffman, who heads a part-time women's clinic in Charlottetown, concurs. "The vast majority are in fact coming for their regular Pap [test] and [birth control] pills and this was kind of an add-on that wasn't really their initial concern," said Hoffman. "But that's how we're finding lots of these cases."
Many men avoid testing for fear of its being physically uncomfortable. Moncton Sexual Health Center nurse Jocelyne Maurice remembers the days of the invasive "Q-tip in the opening of the penis test," which was "a deal breaker for some men to come in for testing."
Technological advances have rendered that Q-tip test obsolete. Tests can now be conducted on urine and blood samples, and through a visual inspection. Holland College student Richard Lush believes male reluctance is connected to ego. "It's a pride thing. Men, they don't have the courage to do it," said Lush.
Reid agrees. "A lot of young males see themselves as invincible. They don't seem to think anything can happen to them," he said. UPEI student council member Jeff MacDougald is endeavoring to change those mindsets. Last year he persuaded 25 other UPEI students to get tested.
"While you may not present symptoms, you are essentially a carrier for the disease and you could be giving it to [your female counterparts], and that can render them infertile," said MacDougald.