While the world battles the COVID pandemic we cannot forget the pre-existing epidemic that silently lurks in the background. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a dangerous epidemic impacting millions. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in June 2019 that Every day, there are more than 1 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among people aged 15-49 years. Many STIs are becoming antibiotic resistant and infections like Super Gonorrhea are becoming a frightening reality.
Canadians at risk:
Everyone needs to have easy access to sexual wellness products and testing to help control the spread of STIs. The restrictions on outreach resulting from the COVID pandemic will only worsen the already epidemic numbers of STIs worldwide. In Canada alone there has been an alarming rise in Chlamydia and Gonorrhea over the last few years. The fallout from outreach organizations not being able to distribute sexual wellness products will have far reaching effects. As recent as this month, countries around the world, including Canada, are seeing continued or increased numbers in infections.
Are you asymptomatic?
One of the disturbing aspects of STIs is that they, like COVID, can be asymptomatic. The absence of symptoms misleads sexually active individuals to believing they are infection free. Without easy access to STI testing, many people are unknowingly spreading infections. One of the easiest methods to help prevent the transmission of STIs is by using a condom. The second simplest method is by offering youth sexual health education that includes proper instruction on using and choosing a condom. Yet the stigma and shame attached to STIs remains a barrier, one that is being compounded by the difficulties COVID 19 presents. The harder it is to access condoms and STI testing, the more we will see an even larger increase in STIs.
What YOU can do:
If COVID is locking doors we need to think how we can continue to distribute condoms to all those in need of accessing them. We know of Sexual Health supplies being distributed through Food Banks, mobile outreach vans, and STI testing done through appointments. But we need to do more in a time when one pandemic is causing an epidemic to become quietly overlooked.
Do your part. Get Tested. Wear a Condom. Be Safe & Cover Up!