Saskatchewan Examiner

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Increase in syphilis cases in Saskatchewan

Syphilis cases are on the rise in Saskatchewan.

Key Takeaways:

  • The sexually transmitted disease syphilis is passed during unprotected sex by direct contact with a sore or rash.
  • According to Khan, syphilis can spread swiftly if people have unprotected sexual contact and do not have access to care or treatment.
  • He claims that barriers to care, racism, poverty, domestic violence, and other issues harm indigenous women.

According to medical health officers, syphilis cases have increased significantly this year in Saskatchewan.

To let people know that we are dealing with an outbreak in Saskatchewan, Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) Medical Health Officer Dr. Nnamidi Ndubuka explained that it was more or less a matter of attempting to push the panic button.

Direct touch with a sore or rash during unprotected sex is how the sexually transmitted disease syphilis is transmitted.

Ages 14 to 39 are the most impacted, with 57 percent of women and 43 percent of men affected.

According to Ndubuka, no condom use was cited as a risk factor by more than 55% of syphilis-infected males and 49% of syphilis-infected women.

Also read: Ottawa expresses regret to the Sask. First Nation for its involvement in the experimental colony

Third, more men and women claim that sexual contact with a partner with an unidentified infection caused transmission.

Use of non-intravenous drugs and alcohol during transmission were also risk factors.

Ndubuka claims that a campaign to raise awareness that NITHA and other health organizations launched in May with informational posters and social media posts is a component of the plan to lessen transmission.

Clinics have boosted screening for HIV and all other STDs, and health organizations are disseminating information on avoiding transmission.

Community health professionals have increased the availability of free condoms in public places in NITHA areas.

Ndubuka added, “We also want all Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities outside the province to walk together to reduce transmission.

In central and northern Saskatchewan, NITHA provides services to 33 First Nations communities with a combined population of 55,000.

Dr. Ibrahim Khan, the regional medical health officer for Indigenous Services Canada in Saskatchewan, reports that from Jan 1 to June 30 of this year, 411 infectious syphilis were discovered in First Nations communities on reservations.

According to Khan, if people engage in unprotected intercourse and do not have access to care or treatment, syphilis can spread quickly.

Since the last significant jump in 2019, when 40 cases were reported within the same month, there has been a 928 percent increase in cases.

Syphilis cases are on the rise in Saskatchewan.
Syphilis cases are on the rise in Saskatchewan. Image from CBC News

According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, the number of cases of infectious syphilis in the province rose to 1,940 in 2018 from 924 in 2020.

ISC collaborates with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and family physicians to offer care rooted in cultural understanding and encourage people to seek diagnostic procedures and medical attention.

According to Khan, there have been six syphilis-related stillbirths since the most recent spike in occurrences in 2019, and health authorities are currently investigating 19 early congenital syphilis cases.

“There are some deadly consequences when you have syphilis, and you are not able to seek care, you are not receiving treatment, and for example, if you are pregnant, there are some deadly consequences, and that is the baby is born with syphilis, or the baby is born dead in the womb,” he said.

Syphilis treatment is publicly subsidized. According to Khan, the standard course of treatment entails a single Benzathine injection and post-treatment care.

Syphilis may result in death if neglected because it damages the nervous system and organs.

According to him, indigenous women are most negatively affected by impediments to care, racism, poverty, domestic violence, and other factors.

The symptoms include a rash and lesions in the general region where bodily fluids are transferred during sexual contact. Sometimes symptoms may not be obvious.

Source: CTV News

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