Syphilis rates in Northern Alberta are going up at an alarming rate, says Alberta Health Services. The group held a press conference yesterday after declaring a provincial outbreak of the sexually transmitted infection. The AHS North Zone, which includes the Lakeland, led the way in new cases in 2018, with an almost 325% increase from the year before.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the stigma around STI testing needs to end.
“We need to emphasize for all Albertans: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a risk to anyone who is sexually active, particularly people who have new sex partners and are not using protection. I encourage anyone who is sexually active to get tested regularly. Anyone in Alberta can access STI testing and treatment for free.”
A provincial outbreak coordination committee consisting of health officials and others has been activated. The committee will develop a strategy to try and increase STI testing, promote public awareness and reduce the overall number of syphilis cases in the province.
The last time Alberta saw syphilis rates this high was 1948. A total of 1,536 cases of the disease were reported in 2018.