Alberta spends $14M to combat syphilis, STDs

Alberta is spending $14 million to reduce the high rate of sexually transmitted infections in the province.
Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky displays posters which will be used in a campaign targeting high rates of STDs in the province. (CBC)

Alberta is spending $14 million to reduce the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases and infections in the province.

"The rates of STI in Alberta are the highest in Canada and that’s just unacceptable," said Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky. "Therefore we are taking aggressive and coordinated action on this very serious public health issue."

Health officials hope the five-year plan will reduce rates of sexually transmitted diseases through education, awareness, testing and the hiring of more staff.

"Alberta rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis exceeded the national rate in 2009," said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. André Corriveau.

"But, we are confident with the implementation of the actions in this strategy — including prenatal testing, an expanded system for contact tracing and hiring more prevention workers — we will see these rates dramatically decrease and bring us below the national rate within the strategy’s timeframe."

Alberta Health and Wellness will spend $14 million over the next 3 years on the plan with funding for the last two years yet to be determined. 

$2 million will go toward TV ads, posters and video boards at bars and nightclubs urging young people to take precautions to protect themselves from infection.

The province, accused of being lax on STDs as rates climbed over the last decade, rejected a proposal in 2008 to start a similar education campaign in the province.