CALGARY- Have fun but be safe. That’s the message from a number of Calgary advocacy groups behind this year’s ‘Put a Condom on your Cowboy’ campaign.
Groups including the Calgary Sexual Health Centre are distributing posters and condoms to bars around the city, in the hopes of preventing what’s become an annual surge in the number of post-Stampede sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies.
“At least anecdotally, we know sexually transmitted infection rates go up every Stampede,” explains Pam Krause, executive director for the Calgary Sexual Health Centre. “Here we see unplanned pregnancy rates going up, lots of people are in our waiting room waiting for counseling a few weeks after Stampede.”
STIs like chlamydia are easily treated, but without symptoms infections often go undiagnosed. Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility.
“You can end up with sterility, you can end up with scarring on the [fallopian] tubes which further interferes with having children,” explains Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “You can also end up with a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease or an ectopic pregnancy.”
According to the latest numbers from Alberta health, nearly 400 out of every 100, 000 people acquired chlamydia in 2012, up from just under 350 in 2008. Dr. Talbot says the increase is significant but not enough to cause alarm.
“We really only have two messages. One is to make sure you take the proper precautions to prevent infections, and the second message is if you’re not doing that than you should be seen by a health professional regularly so you can be diagnosed.”