The number of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) across Alberta continues to surge and the biggest outbreak is in Edmonton, according to the latest statistics from Alberta Health.
The rate of STIs, some of the highest seen in the province since the 1980s, are particularly bad for gonorrhea and syphilis.
Dr. Karen Grimsrud, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Edmonton is the leader amongst new cases of both syphilis and gonorrhea.
“The biggest increases are in Edmonton; however, with syphilis, we are seeing the numbers in Calgary starting to match the numbers in Edmonton. But Edmonton continues to report the highest rates and numbers.”
At the end of November, there were 360 cases of syphilis in Alberta and 3,396 cases of gonorrhea. While data from December is not yet available, the province is on track for an eight per cent increase from 2015 despite a $250,000 awareness campaign undertaken by Alberta Health Services in June.
Alberta Health said that although it believes the campaign was effective, the latest STI numbers suggest more needs to be done.
“We did see an increase in our testing, which is what we were hoping to do, so that social media campaign seemed to be quite successful,” Grimsrud said. “But given that we are still seeing the increase, although it has levelled off somewhat, we are thinking now that maybe we should look at more of a targeted approach.”
Alberta Health is exploring the idea of working with community groups to help raise awareness among the highest-risk demographics: young indigenous women and men who have sex with men.
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