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Gonorrhea and infectious syphilis rates are rising in Canada

(NC) Despite warnings from health experts to avoid unprotected sex, Canadians continue to be at risk for sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and infectious syphilis.

While chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection reported in Canada, gonorrhea has been steadily increasing since 1997, after a period of decline. In recent years, gonorrhea rates began to level off, however, increasing reports of antibiotic resistance and treatment failure in gonorrhea are raising concerns that rates may soon begin to rise again.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, gonorrhea is now the second most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in Canada with a 53 per cent increase in cases between 2001 and 2010, especially in northern parts of the country. People under 30 accounted for more than 70 per cent of all cases of gonorrhea in 2010.

Infectious syphilis is also on the rise, with outbreaks occurring mainly among men who have sex with men. Although men aged 30 to 39 have the highest rates in Canada, recent increases among younger men aged 20 to 24 are also of concern.

Sexually transmitted infections can have serious consequences if left untreated among both men and women such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, arthritis or certain types of cancer and can result in blindness or pneumonia in newborns. All sexually active Canadians, young and old, even those in monogamous relationships, should consider seeking testing for sexually transmitted infections from their healthcare provider or local sexual health.

Also, don't get so caught up in preventing pregnancy that you forget about protecting against sexually transmitted infections. Use a condom for vaginal or anal sex, and a dental dam for oral sex. Remember the bottom line – while there are ways to reduce your risk, the only way to completely protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy is by refraining from sex altogether.

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