The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is sounding the alarm about a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI), notably a four to five times increase in the annual number of reported cases of syphilis.
The new data was taken between 2019 and 2021.
Health officials say that, prior to 2019, there was an average of 10 cases per year of syphilis within SMDHU’s medical region, but that number jumped to 50 last year.
According to that same data, the number of cases of gonorrhea reported annually is up from 120 in 2020 to 265 in 2021.
“The increasing cases of STIs is a disturbing trend that we are seeing not only locally, but across the province as well,” Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, says. “It is important to keep in mind that access to health care during the pandemic has been limited and the number of cases may be higher than we realize. Many STIs can go undiagnosed as people don’t always show symptoms or people don’t recognize that the symptom is due to an STI and the only way to know is to get tested.”
Health officials “strongly encourage” anyone who is sexually active, had a new partner or multiple partners in the last two years, engaged in unprotected sex, or has symptoms of an STI to get checked. They add that most STIs can be treated with free medication through your healthcare provider.