Covid-19 is creating havoc around the world outside of the obvious health consequences. The mental health, emotional stress, economical impact, and overall effects have all been seen around the world.
Supply Chains Interrupted
So many other things are falling through the proverbial cracks. Supply chains are interrupted or outright stopped due to closures, shutdowns, lockdowns, and redirection of critical components. International shipping is either stalled or overwhelmed and skyrocketing in costs due to supply and demand. Manufacturers are redefining their production to meet the immediate needs of PPE and Covid-19 related products and, unwittingly, creating a void in other areas as a result.
STIs were already an epidemic
Yet the reality is that everything before Covid-19 has not gone away. STIs were an epidemic pre-Covid and are still an international concern of epidemic proportions. The closing of Public Health locations that offer free condoms and outreach of other safer sex supplies has made accessible Sexual Wellness impossible for thousands of Canadians. STI testing now requires an appointment and booking at most locations. This is resulting in people not going for testing until they are showing symptoms. The large number of asymptomatic STIs are going unchecked due to restrictions placed on easy access to testing. As well, educational resources and programs are no longer readily available for many demographics across the country.
Global Shortage of Testing Supplies
On top of ease of access issues, there is also a current Global shortage of testing supplies for STIs. “COVID-19-19 public health measures have restricted the delivery of, and access to, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) prevention, testing and treatment services, including harm reduction services across Canada,” said a spokesperson for Health Canada.”
The resulting fallout is a rise in STIs, not only within Canada, but around the world. Canada is already marking its fourth consecutive year of rising HIV rates. The true picture will take time to emerge as society begins to reopen and testing begins in earnest. But something of such an epidemic scope does not just go away. We need to continue to educate people about STIs, including transmission, prevention, symptoms or lack of them, and testing. We need to have easy access to proper safer sex supplies. We need to have easy access to STI testing. We need prevention, awareness, and education to be at the forefront of maintaining one’s sexual health.
How to move forward
Maybe the time has come to think outside of the box. How can communities offer education, prevention and testing while maintaining Covid-19 restrictions? We cannot simply shut it all down without there being many negative ramifications, ramifications that will bear their own costs in the health and economy of the nation. As the world worked together for a Covid-19 vaccine, perhaps we all need to look at working together on finding an answer to the global STI epidemic. We have seen what can be done when we all collaborate. Why not work together to find answers that will allow us to be together without fear.