Increase in young people diagnosed with an STI

Clara Caslin

Image Credit: Alison Clair

There were 5,200 people aged from 15 to 24  diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea or herpes in 2017.

STIs in young people is on the rise with an 11 per cent increase from 4677 cases in 2016 to 5200 in 2017, according to the latest STI surveillance report by the Health Protection Surveillance
Centre (HSPC).

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) joined with the Health Service Executive (HSE) in February to launch a sexual health awareness and guidance campaign known as the Shag campaign in college campuses.

Dublin City University (DCU) held KISS (Keep It Safe and Sexy) sexual health week and Vice President for Welfare and Equality Aisling Fagan said“saw a massive uptake in STI testing in the student health centre” during it.

“The SU has funded free STI tests in the health centre on Glasnevin and St.Pats campuses. The tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea are free. The rest have a charge but that was the most that we could fund,” said Fagan.

“There has been several awareness campaigns in DCU since September. Hopefully the message got through regarding the importance of using condoms at all times. We provide condoms and students can help themselves when supplies are available,” said Head of the Student Health Centre, Jessie Byrne.

Of the 5200 people aged 15-24 diagnosed with an STI in 2017, 59 per cent were female and 41 per cent were male. Chlamydia in young people made up 50 per cent of all cases reported, 62 per cent were female and 38 per cent were male.

Gonorrhoea made up 39 per cent with 33 per cent being female and 67 per cent being male. Genital herpes made up 38 per cent of which 81 per cent were female and 19 per cent were male.

“I think STIs in universities have always been a problem. People don’t have enough education about them for knowing the symptoms and signs and knowing what to do when they think that they might have contracted one,” said Fagan.

“There’s no need for anyone to be embarrassed, the nurses in the health centre are more than familiar with everything, there’s no shame in it whatsoever. We want to create a positive
culture around getting tested,” she added.

In 2017, gay men accounted for 100 per cent of Lymphogranuloma verereum (LGV) cases, 87 per cent of early infectious syphilis cases and 60 per cent of gonorrhoea cases. Rates of early infectious syphilis and gonorrhoea in gay men also increased.

Overall, there were 13,629 people diagnosed with an STI in Ireland in 2017. This was a 5 per cent increase in STIs in Ireland compared to 2016, according to the latest STI surveillance report
by the HSPC.

Clara Caslin

Image Credit: Alison Clair