Saskatchewan university tackles high STI rates with screening campaign
Published Wednesday, November 2, 2016 8:57PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, November 2, 2016 9:04PM EDT
Saskatchewan is among the provinces with the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections, but a university campus is taking action.
According to the most recent Health Canada report, the number of reported cases of chlamydia in 2012 was 526 per 100,000 people, placing it as the third highest province.
They also have some of the highest rates of gonorrhea and HIV.
The rates are even higher on the University of Saskatchewan campus, according to health practitioners.
“There is a concern with the low rates of testing, especially when we know the high rates of disease,” Jocelyn Orb, U of S student health services manager told CTV News Saskatoon.
Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon partnered with the University of Saskatchewan student health services to encourage more people to get tested and also try to set a world record for screening the most people in one day and one place.
One reason organizers are hoping to increase STI testing is that reluctance to get tested can be dangerous to one’s own health as well as that of others.
“Some of the STI’s like chlamydia can be asymptomatic, so you may actually have chlamydia and not know it and then be spreading it amongst your community,” Orb said.
“It is very important for people to come and get tested, because it can lead to other health effects in your future like infertility.”
But stigma is a critical factor in the low number of people who get tested.
“People don’t want to be associated with something like that because maybe if they see they’re standing there at our booth here and they’re in line for STI testing that means they have an STI, which is not correct at all,” said U of S nursing student Kyle Morozuik.
Orb and the other organizers hoped the event would help decrease the stigma and it seems to have been a success.
They typically screen about 100 people per month, but Wednesday’s event brought in more than 600 people.
“Getting everyone to come get tested, it just normalizes more as a part of your overall health routine and not something that’s more taboo,” said Morozuik.
Although they didn’t surpass the world record, organizers said raising awareness about STIs among students was the true goal.
Western University still holds the record for screening 812 people.
With a report by CTV Saskatoon