March 24, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 91  

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Ontario extra slutty, chlamydia stats show

By Jonathan Yazer
Gazette Staff

Renowned for engaging in promiscuous sex, Western students should take heed of an apparently widespread growth in the occurrence of chlamydia. In Ontario, the problem seems concentrated in, but not isolated to, Waterloo.

“We were recently approached by a local TV station because of the rise of chlamydia in southern Ontario,” said Ruth Kropf, department supervisor of Health Services at the University of Waterloo.

The Communicable Disease, Dental and Sexuality Resources division of the Region Municipality of Waterloo Community Health Department reported a 27 per cent increase in chlamydia between 2000 and 2001.

“A surge in chlamydia has been observed province and nationwide due in part to more sensitive testing, hence more cases are identified,” the report said.

Cheryl Opolko, a staff public health nurse for an AIDS/STD program in Waterloo, said the increase is not solely attributable to better and more frequent testing, and heightened public awareness. “There is a real increase as well,” she said.

Kropf explained that the spike in the incidence of chlamydia at Waterloo is consistent with the Ontario average. “Our rates are running equivalent to the provincial rise, and are reflective of the community increase,” she said. “This is a provincial problem and this year, there’s been a noticeable increase.”

According to the most recent statistics from Public Health Epidemiology Report Ontario, there were 1,722 more cases of chlamydia reported to provincial public health units in 2002 than in 2001.

Melanie Slade, health education volunteer co-ordinator of Student Health Services at Western, said students should be cautious even though no quantitative analysis of the occurrence of chlamydia on campus has been conducted.

“It’s hard to track since most people don’t know they have it,” said Slade, adding it is common for chlamydia — which is both preventable and treatable — to be unaccompanied by symptoms. “Even if they do know, people aren’t very forthcoming because they don’t want other people to know.”

Slade noted that SHS conducts testing for many kinds of sexually transmitted infections.

Elaine Scott, manager of adolescent/sexual health program at the Guelph Health Unit, said she has seen the number of chlamydia cases this year rise by 46 over last year. “There were more cases at Guelph from last year to this year, and all our sexually transmitted infections are slightly up,” she said.

Slade emphasized the dangers of leaving chlamydia unchecked, especially for women. “If it isn’t caught early in women, it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, a painful condition that can’t be cured and feels like bad menstrual cramps.” She also noted that chlamydia can increase the risks of infertility and HIV/AIDS.



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