Improved access to testing and increased socialising following the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to the spike in cases
Cases of STIs – notably chlamydia and gonorrhoea – increased in 2022 compared to 2019, according to HPSC’s latest surveillance data published earlier this week.
The data shows that gonorrhoea rates have increased by 45 per cent and chlamydia by 20 per cent, whereas Early Infectious Syphilis (EIS) rates have remained relatively stable.
Several factors are contributing to the rise in cases, including a return to normal levels of socialising after Covid-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted. Another significant factor has been improvements in access to testing.
Professor Fiona Lyons, Medical Director/Clinical Lead in Sexual Health, HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP), encouraged the public to avail of the HSE’s free home testing service.
“The HSE home testing service has really improved access to testing no matter where people live. It is convenient to use and is proving very popular with the public,” she said.
“This has led to an increase in detection of STIs, and we estimate now that more than one third of all chlamydia cases and nearly a quarter of gonorrhoea cases were detected via this testing service in 2022. STIs are common, particularly chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhoea, and increases have been seen throughout the country.”
Dr Derval Igoe, Specialist in Public Health Medicine at the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), added: “Consistent condom use, particularly when changing partners, is key for prevention. So too is availing of testing following unprotected sex, which helps in early detection and treatment and prevents passing on infection to others.”
Further information is available at sexualwellbeing.ie. For gbMSM, additional resources are available at man2man.ie.
Meanwhile, the free HSE STI home testing service is available for all 17 years of age and older living anywhere in Ireland who can order a test online at www.sexualwellbeing.ie.