Gonorrhea cases on the rise, especially among 20-24 age group

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In the first half of 2014, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health saw nearly 50 per cent more cases of gonorrhea than they did in the first six months of 2013.

A similar increase is being reported this year at Region of Waterloo Public Health.

In both jurisdictions, health authorities say the biggest increase is coming in the 20-to-24 age range – possibly because of that age group taking fewer precautions than in the past.

“They’re not protecting themselves as much as they used to be,” says Lesley Rintche, Waterloo Region’s manager of sexual health, of those being diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection.

Having multiple sexual partners also increases one’s risk of contracting gonorrhea.

In Waterloo Region, the rate of gonorrhea prevalence sits at more than 30 out of every 100,000 people.

In the recent past, the rate has sat closer to 20 per 100,000.

Rita Sethi, the director of community health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, says some of the increase could be due to new guidelines mandated for testing and treatment due to changes in the bacteria.

“A lot of the gonorrhea bacteria has become resistant to our traditional antibiotic treatments,” she says.

Public health authorities offer free testing, treatment and counselling for all sexually transmitted infections – and want to see anyone who might be at risk come in for a test.

“Getting tested for STIs is really easy now. It’s not what it used to be,” Rintche says, adding that the “painful” swabs used in the past have been replaced by the collection of urine samples.

In the past, the 15-to-19 age group was the most likely to experience gonorrhea.

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