Gonorrhea rate rises sharply in Waterloo Region

Gonorrhea rates have nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013 according to the 2013 infectious disease report for Waterloo Region.

Chlamydia still the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection in region

An illustration of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium that causes gonorrhea. (www.royaltystockphoto.com/Shutterstock)

Gonorrhea rates for 2013 have almost doubled in Waterloo Region, according to the regional public health department's annual report on infectious diseases.

The report is being presented at a regional council meeting on Wednesday.

In 2013, 164 people people were diagnosed with gonorrhea, nearly double the 88 diagnosed in 2012. That jump is also the highest gonorrhea rate in the region since 2008. The highest rate of infection occurred in people aged 20-24, and the second highest rate was people aged 25 to 29. 

The highest rate of infection occurred in people aged 20 to 24.

Lesley Rintche, the manager of the sexual health and harm reduction programs at the Region of Waterloo, says she's surprised people in their early twenties reported the highest prevalence.

"There haven't been many safer sex campaigns out there for that age group, so it could be that. Could be that people aren't accessing reputable or you know informative [web]sites for information about this," she said. 

Rintche says usually 15 to 19-year-olds report the highest rate of infection.

Of all the people diagnosed with the STI, 146 people reported risk factor information about how they contracted gonorrhea. Just over 75 per cent of those reporting said they hadn't used a condom, 40 per cent said they had more than one sexual partner in the past six months, while 26 per cent had a new sexual partner in the past two months.

The lack of condom use is something that concerns Rintche. 

"There's so much information out there. People know that condoms protect against STIs. So why aren't people using them?"

Chlamydia still the most common infectious disease in the region

The number of people infected by gonorrhea is greatly overshadowed by the number who have chlamydia. In 2013, chlamydia accounted for just under half of all cases of diagnosed infectious disease in the region excluding influenza, 1,220 people in all.

Chlamydia also accounts for 79 per cent of all sexually transmitted infection diagnoses in Waterloo Region. Females are more likely to have the STI, and those between 15-24 have the highest incidence rates.  Of all the people with the disease who reported their risk factors to public health, a whopping 84 per cent admitted they didn't use a condom. 

And 49 people in the region had both chlamydia and gonorrhea at the same time. 

with files from Jane Van Koeverden