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Doctors question Sask. health minister about safe sex practices

Doctors question Sask. health minister about STI prevention
WATCH ABOVE: Doctors looking at how Saskatchewan can address issues physicians are seeing on the front lines.

Doctors around Saskatchewan are ringing alarms over the number of patients coming to them with sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

One Saskatoon family doctor is concerned some of her younger, sexually active patients aren’t getting all of the information they need.

READ MORE: HIV and syphilis outbreaks declared in northwest Saskatchewan

“I regularly take care of young girls who are pregnant who maybe would not have been if they had had more education. I treat chlamydia and gonorrhea on a weekly basis,” Dr. Carla Holinaty said.

Several physicians brought the issue forward to the Saskatchewan health minister at Friday’s Saskatchewan Medical Association’s (SMA) panel discussion during its biannual meeting.

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Jim Reiter said the province has moved forward on making HIV treatment universal but will be looking to address the lack of education.

“I committed to having a discussion with the Minister of Education arranging for her to meet with either the minister or some of his senior officials. (Preventative education) is much better,” Reiter said.

Saskatoon Sexual Health (SSH) is concerned teachers aren’t receiving adequate support when providing sexual health education.

HIV and syphilis outbreaks declared in northwest Saskatchewan
HIV and syphilis outbreaks declared in northwest Saskatchewan

The province’s Health Education 9 curriculum states sexual health is a major part of personal health and safety.

It states students who decide to become sexually active need information about effective protection against pregnancy and STIs.

Holinaty and SSH don’t believe these concepts are being taught effectively.

READ MORE: STIs rates in Canada are rising — decline in condom use may be to blame

Both told Global News the information is out of date, with the curriculum showing hepatitis C is a non-curable STI and little information about STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

“Yes we’ve got medications that can manage and cure these diseases but why aren’t we spending our time from happening in the first place, which is why my question was focused on improving education of people so that we don’t even have to worry about treating these conditions,” Holinaty said.

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Earlier this year, the Saskatchewan Health Authority declared a syphilis and HIV outbreak in the northwest section of the province.

As well as issues around sexual health, a number of questions about primary care and access to care in rural parts of the province were posed to the minister.

Primary care and access to care in rural Saskatchewan were also discussed in the SMA’s board meeting with the minister on Thursday.

Reiter added there will be several pieces of healthcare legislation coming forward in the coming weeks including regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco products and tackling surgical wait times.