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Unprecedented gonorrhea rates in Hastings Prince Edward

An unprecedented number of gonorrhea cases continues in Hastings and Prince Edward counties, with a 200 per cent increase in 2020 compared to the previous five-year average.

In June 2020, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) declared an outbreak of gonorrhea, and the area continues to be in outbreak status

From 2015-2019, HPEPH had an average of 39 gonorrhea cases that were diagnosed per year. In comparison, 79 cases were reported in 2020, and 25 cases have been reported in the first four months of 2021.

Individuals from a variety of age groups, relationship statuses, and sexual orientation are testing positive – meaning that anyone who is having condomless/unprotected sex could be at risk, said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH.

“Since over 50 per cent of men and woman will not have symptoms of gonorrhea, you might not know you have the infection unless you get tested,” said Oglaza. “Knowing your status is important. When untreated, gonorrhea and other STIs can lead to serious complications, such as long-term illness, infection, and infertility. To reduce your risk, know your partners’ status and use protection. If you’re unsure of your partners’ STI status or your own, get tested.”

“Just because you or your partner(s) don’t have symptoms, doesn’t mean you’re not infected. Many people have sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and don’t know it, which means it can easily be passed on to others. If you’ve had condomless/unprotected sex, have a new partner, or have more than one partner, get tested.”

Individuals are also encouraged to consider getting tested, even if they only have one partner. If one individual is engaging in sexual activities outside of a relationship, they could pass STIs on. STIs can be spread through unprotected oral, vaginal and anal sex with a partner who is already infected. Sharing sex toys can also spread infection.

HPEPH is unable to offer STI testing currently, as resources have been redeployed to support the COVID-19 pandemic response. People are advised to contact their primary care provider or a walk-in clinic.

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