Sexual health clinics aim to combat growing infection rates

Eastern Health is holding sexual health clinics across eastern Newfoundland this month.

Clinics being held across eastern Newfoundland in March

Eastern Health is holding sexual health clinics in March to try to fight the province's growing rate of sexually transmitted infections. (CBC)

Eastern Health is holding multiple sexual health clinics in March to try to tame Newfoundland and Labrador's growing rate of sexually transmitted infections.

Walk-in clinics are being held in St. John's, Mount Pearl, St. Lawrence, Harbour Grace and Carbonear by March 31.

Dr. Claudia Sarbu, the health board's Medical Officer of Health, says the rate of STIs in Newfoundland and Labrador has been steadily increasing.

"Generally, we see an increase in number of cases, and this is underestimated, because people are not reaching out to their physicians or nurse practitioners … for testing," she said.

According to the provincial government, 818 people were diagnosed with chlamydia between January and October 2016, and 816 between January and October 2015. That compares with 869 throughout all of 2014 and 801 during all of 2013.

Eastern Health recommends people get tested even if they have no signs of an infection, because many infections don't show any symptoms.

"We have many people not being aware that they actually have a sexual transmitted infection," said Sarbu.

'Condom fatigue'

The rise in STI rates is being seen across Canada, and throughout much of the world, according to Sarbu.

She says some of the increase is being attributed to "condom fatigue."

"After the raise of HIV and AIDS, as we developed effective treatments … and we transformed AIDS into a chronic disease, people got less worried to use condoms for protection," she said.

However, Sarbu says the consequences of having an untreated STI can be very severe — leading to infertility or cancer in some people.

You can find the schedule for the sexual health clinics on Eastern Health's website.