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

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Port McNeill council discusses ‘bear aware’ and what you can do to stay safe

Port McNeill’s Conservation Officer Brad Adams gave a presentation about being ‘bear aware’.

Port Hardy RCMP release tips to prevent fraud and theft from vehicles

In many of the incidents reported, “the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked.”

Stranded hikers rescued by helicopter on Mt. Schoen

Campbell River Search and Rescue used hoist operation to rescue trio

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

$5-million lotto ticket sold in Nanaimo

Someone matched all six numbers in Wednesday’s 6/49 draw

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Most Read