The fourth in a series of Better Health for All online reports released today by Saskatoon Health Region reveal HIV and hepatitis C rates continue to steadily decline, while sexually transmitted infection (STIs) rates are less encouraging.
“Bloodborne and sexually transmitted infections have high health, social and economic costs,” says Saskatoon Health Region’s Deputy Medical Health Officer Julie Kryzanowski. “Saskatoon Health Region has historically had high rates of these types of infections compared to our national counterparts but we are seeing progress in rate reductions in many areas.”
Bloodborne infections are caused by viruses (HIV and hepatitis C) and are transmitted by blood or body fluids that contain blood. STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) are bacterial infections usually passed on during unprotected sex with an infected partner. The report shows:
- Hepatitis C rates have declined significantly in our Region since 2004. They are 28 percent lower than the provincial rate from 2011 but still 50 percent higher than the national rate from 2012. HIV rates have been steadily declining over the last four years but are still twice the national average.
- Chlamydia rates have remained stable since 2010.
- Gonorrhea and syphilis have sharply increased since 2011, which is consistent with provincial trends.
In our last Better Health for All series, Advancing Health Equity in Health Care, we identified very large gaps in health outcomes for individuals living in the most disadvantaged areas. This was reflected in the rates for bloodborne and sexually transmitted infections with 66 percent of hepatitis C cases, 45 percent of chlamydia infections and 62 percent of gonorrhea cases coming from the identified disadvantaged areas between 2004 and 2010.
“While we have implemented many strategies and approaches to reduce the rates of bloodborne and sexually transmitted infections, including improved access to testing, education and monitoring, the data shows us there is much more work to be done,” says Kryzanowski.
In addition to statistics, the report includes information on the many intervention strategies implemented to provide opportunities for better health for all:
- Established a urine drop off service for testing, and strategically expanded and promoted the number of testing sites in areas of higher risk.
- Ongoing work with at risk youth, providing education and testing opportunities.
- Improved treatment outcomes by prioritizing home visits.
- Developed alternative follow up and support plans for individuals resistant to traditional care models.
- Promotion of concurrent testing of HIV with STI testing.
- Enhanced monitoring and surveillance of confirmed case contacts to improve outcomes and minimize transference.
The report is summarized at https://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/locations_services/Services/Health-Observatory/Pages/ReportsPublicatlions.aspx. In the coming months, Saskatoon Health Region will release additional online reports with information on the Region’s health status and wellbeing.