A HSE report has revealed an increase of 22.1% in reported cases of Syphilis. In response, the Union of Students in Ireland has launched its online SHAG (Sexual Health and Awareness Guide) Week, and is encouraging young people to get themselves tested.
The HSE report also showed that early infectious diagnosis were 2,290% higher in men than in women, with a ratio of 24:1 men: women. An increase in the reported cases of Chlamydia was also noted in the report, with 70 more cases reported, a significant increase on previous years; there were 6,815 people diagnosed in 2015 compared to 6693 in 2014. A noticeably smaller increase was seen in the reported cases of genital herpes, which rose by 3.3% from 2014.
“We are urging students and young people to look after their sexual health,” USI President Annie Hoey said. “This means getting tested regularly and using condoms & dental dams to protect themselves from the risk of contracting an STI. Getting tested is quick, painless and usually free at college health clinics, GUM clinics and sexual health clinics.”
The report also discovered that there were almost five times the amount of reported cases of gonorrhoea in men as compared to women in 2015 (1,083 to 221). However there were almost three times more reported cases of genital herpes reported in women as opposed to men (928-women, 340-men); moreover, there were 239 reported cases in men with early infectious syphilis compared to only 10 cases in women.
The Union, which represents 354,000 students across the island of Ireland, has emphasised that early detection and treatment of STIs is absolutely vital to minimise the possibility of any long-term health damage.
As part of its ‘SHAG Week’ campaign, USI has also updated the website ‘shag.usi.ie’ with information on types of contraception, how to use contraception, details on emergency contraception and the importance of safe sex.