Sexually Transmitted Infections up 6.5%


Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) increased by 6.5% in 2003 when compared with 2002, according to the latest available figures released by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre today (Wednesday).

The most commonly notified STIs in 2003 were ano-genital warts, non-specific urethritis and Chlamydia trachomatis.

Commenting on the figures, HPSC Specialist in Public Health Medicine, Dr Mary Cronin, said that while the increases in reported cases reflect unsafe sexual practices, other factors including the availability of more sophisticated testing methods and public and professional awareness of STIs generally, also contributed to the increases.

"Many STIs may have no signs or symptoms. For example, more than seven out of ten women infected with chlamydia have no symptoms and may not realise they are infected. STIs can have devastating consequences for people's health and fertility if left unchecked and untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential if we are to control the spread of infections. I would urge those who are sexually active to practice safe sex. However, if somebody feels they have put themselves at risk they should get checked out by their GP or clinic.

"Having another sexually transmitted infection also increases the risk of transmission and acquisition of HIV infection. The prevention messages have never been more important as there is no cure for HIV infection or AIDS, although with advances in treatment more people are living with the infection.

"Notifications of syphilis and gonorrhoea decreased by 22.4% and 13.1% respectively in 2003 compared to 2002. Between 2000 and 2002, there was a dramatic increase in syphilis among men who have sex with men in Dublin which peaked in 2002. However, notifications have not returned to their pre outbreak levels and syphilis remains endemic in Ireland. The overall decrease in syphilis and gonorrhoea, may have resulted from the interventions put in place to control the syphilis outbreak," said Dr Cronin.