UNPRECEDENTED levels of chlamydia and gonorrhoea have been recorded in the Mid-West this year.
Public Health HSE Mid-West is appealing to people in Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary to protect their sexual health and to avail of testing due to unprecedented levels of chlamydia and gonorrhoea this year.
According to the latest data, record levels of gonorrhoea are being reported in the Mid-West region. If current trends persist, record levels of chlamydia are likely to be recorded by the end of the year.
In 2022, Public Health HSE Mid-West recorded the highest number of both chlamydia cases (798), and gonorrhoea (188) in the past ten years. Year-to-date in 2023, there have been 664 cases of chlamydia, and 274 cases of gonorrhoea.
Dr Kenneth Beatty, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, said, “The rising incidence of sexually transmitted infections in the Mid-West is an issue of Public Health concern. For males and females, chlamydia and gonorrhoea can lead to painful inflammatory diseases, which can lead to infertility.
“An individual, behavioural response is needed to protect ourselves. Wearing a condom correctly and availing of frequent testing is the most practical way to prevent future infections and to protect your sexual partners. Free contraception is available to 17-30-year-olds, and SH24 home testing is also free for everyone,” Dr Beatty added.
Dr Patrick O’Donnell, GP with HSE Social Inclusion CHO3 & Associate Professor of General Practice at University of Limerick, said, “Testing for sexually transmitted infections is now even easier with the availability of the home testing programme. These curable conditions can be present for a period of time without a person realising it. There are easy treatments and supports available to a person if they have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. If you need further advice you can speak to your GP, practice nurse, sexual health clinic or go online to www.sexualwellbeing.ie”.
Advice from Public Health HSE Mid-West is for people to use a condom correctly every time they have set whether it is oral, anal or vaginal and to avoid sexual contact if presenting with symptoms of an STI and to get tested if showing symptoms of an STI. Persons should also get tested if their recent sexual partner(s) have an STI, or if you have new or multiple sexual partners.
People can avail of free home testing via www.SH24.ie. SH24 testing has accounted for nearly 40% of all positive chlamydia cases in the Mid-West so far this year.
In summer 2023, HSE Mid-West established its first ever Regional Sexual Health and Wellbeing Committee, to tackle rising levels of sexually-transmitted infections and to improve sexual wellbeing in the Mid-West region. The committee comprises expert membership from a wide range of disciplines, including community outreach, acute clinical, nursing, Public Health, and communications. It will convene its second meeting in Q4 2023.