Sexually transmitted infections on the rise on Vancouver Island

Island Health launches online option to help encourage more testing, particularly aimed at younger residents

Island Health officials are hopeful a new online testing program for sexually transmitted infections will help curb their upswing in younger Vancouver Island adults.

Remember the height of the AIDS scare, when people were basically bombarded with the message of “wear a condom or die?”

Today’s young adults don’t.

That may be factor in the gradually increasing rate of sexually transmitted infections on Vancouver Island and it certainly is playing a part in a new promotion being launched by Island Health.

“For me, the emphasis is to promote it for our youth populations, and for people to start thinking about (testing) as part of their regular health care,” Vancouver Island medical health officer Dee Hoyano said.

Between 2005 and 2014, chlamydia — the most common of the diseases being tested for — has risen from 216 cases per 100,000 people to 288 per 100,000. Cases in the south and central Island roughly mirror those numbers, while on the north Island they are a little higher.

Other sexually transmitted infections are less common, but also seem to be on the upswing. Hoyano points to two factors.

“Our tests have gotten better, so when we do test, we pick up more; and changes in sexual behaviour, particularly around safer sex practices like using a condom,” she said.

As part of its emphasis on increased testing, the health authority has launched getcheckedonline.com a new service that allows you to get tested for chlamydia, hepatitis C, syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV without ever having to visit a doctor’s office.

Island residents can create an account through the website, take a quiz on their sexual history, print a laboratory requisition form, then get tested at a participating LifeLabs outlet.

Negative results will lead to an online notification. Positive or inconclusive results will lead to a call from a nurse to arrange treatment.

Health officials hope the increased privacy the program offers will combine with youth culture’s comfort online to result in more people getting tested.

The program is primarily being offered to residents of Victoria, Langford and Duncan because that is where the participating labs are.

However, Hoyano said residents of communities further up-Island are also welcome to participate if they don’t mind making the drive.

She is hopeful the service can be expanded fully into other Island communities, if the numbers of this initial program seem to warrant it.

Public health officials recommend B.C. residents get tested for HIV once every five years, regardless of their behaviour. People are told to consider testing for the other diseases based on factors like new sexual partners, or signs and symptoms.

“It’s kind of what makes sense of the individual,” Hoyano said. “Some who are potentially at higher risk might want to do more.”

A similar pilot program was launched in Vancouver focused on men who have sex with men. Visit the website for more information.

 

 

Just Posted

One hurt in Gertrude Street Bridge accident

Driver suffers medical emergency in Port Alberni crash

Motorcyclist caught driving 117 km/h on Beaver Creek Road

Port Alberni man was driving in a posted 50 km/h zone

Port Alberni soapbox derby has new track

Lower Argyle Street will be open to racers under six

UPDATED: Somass River closed to sockeye fishery

Early closure aimed at conserving Great Central Lake stock

Heat warning issued for Vancouver Island

Temperatures expected to cool down later this week

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

Island wide crime spree leads to multiple charges against Cowichan Valley resident

Social Media and citizens of the North Island played a big role in solving the case.

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

Jennifer Charlesworth has worked in government, social services

Most Read