SASKATOON -- Health officials are dealing with outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections in some west-central Saskatchewan communities.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority has declared an outbreak of HIV cases in North Battleford and outbreaks of syphilis in the Battlefords and Lloydminster areas.
It says HIV is being spread mainly through people injecting drugs and sharing needles, but can also be contracted through unprotected sex.
The outbreaks of syphilis are due to unprotected sexual activity.
Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, medical officer of health, says there have been 15 new HIV cases in North Battleford over the past few months when the normal number of cases is four annually.
He says there have been 42 cases of syphilis in the Battlefords and Lloydminster over the past five months when there are usually fewer than seven new cases each year.
"We want the public to be aware of the risks associated with these infections, and how they can be prevented and treated," Nsungu said Friday.
"HIV and syphilis are treatable diseases. It is important that individuals who are sexually active know their own status for HIV and syphilis. Knowing your status means that treatment can be provided and individuals can be helped to reduce the risk of spreading the illness."
Nsungu say many people who have STIs such as syphilis and HIV don't have any symptoms.
He says testing is free and confidential and can be done by a physician, nurse practitioner or at a walk-in or sexual health clinic.