Ireland health officials are reporting an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), prompting calls for the public of the importance of using condoms to protect against STIs.
According to the publication of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) 2018 report on STIs today, provisional data indicate a 7% increase in STIs in 2018 compared to 2017, the predominant STIs being chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes and syphilis.
In recent years, the greatest burden of STIs is among young people (aged 15-24 years) and men who have sex with men (MSM).
Sexual health campaigns are supported by the HSE National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS), which distributes free condoms and lubricant to third level colleges, festival and nightlife venues, NGOs and community organisations. Condoms are also distributed to MSM specific social venues such as saunas, bars, clubs and pubs.
“Many STIs do not have any symptoms. If you think you have an STI or you may have been at risk, it is important to get tested and if necessary, be treated, according to Helen Deely, Programme Lead of the SHCPP.
“Treating STIs promptly reduces the likelihood of them being passed onto someone else. This is particularly important for HIV. Starting HIV treatment as early as possible keeps you healthy and stops HIV transmission to others. We will continue to promote the safer sex message across numerous channels and provide condoms to those who are most at risk”.
She also notes, “Using condoms correctly and every time you have sex will reduce your risk of contracting an STI. Plan ahead and carry condoms with you if you are sexually active. If you have a new partner, it is a good idea for both persons to have a sexual health check-up before having sex without a condom”.