STIs are on the rise – but 4 out of 5 young Irish people aren't getting tested

A new survey conducted by LetsGetChecked has found 80% of young people have no intention of having an STI test this year, despite sexually transmitted infections being on the rise in Ireland


Sexually transmitted infections are more common in Ireland than you might think.

In 2019, the HSE said its Health Protection Surveillance Centre recorded an 88% increase in gonorrhoea cases, a 56% increase in HIV cases, and an almost 90% rise in syphilis cases since 2013. Chlamydia also surged by 24% over the past five years, with new diagnoses rising from 6,246 in 2013 to 7,942 last year.

With statistics like these, it would be fair to assume young people would want regular STI checks. However, a new survey by LetsGetChecked found that's not the case. The survey of over 1,000 Irish adults revealed that almost four out of five 18 to 24-year-olds have no plans to get tested for sexually transmitted infections in 2020. Not only that, but only 9% of adults aged 25-34 intend to get checked.

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'An epidemic'

Dr Dominic Rowley, who is the medical director of LetsGetChecked said, "There is an epidemic of STIs in the western world at the moment. This is something that urgently needs to be addressed. The findings are particularly alarming in this era of increased information and ease-of-access to testing," he added.

The team's research also found that, while young people are avoiding getting STI tests, they are nonetheless googling their symptoms. However, Dr Rowley has warned against this. 'Self-diagnoses' are often motivated by symptoms – but the reality is that many STIs have no symptoms at all.

"While checking for symptoms online from a trusted source is reasonable, it is vital to remember that many STIs are silent – particularly in women," he says. "My huge concern about this is that silent STIs can lead to serious problems later in life, such as infertility.

"For this reason," he continued, "we suggest getting regular STI check-ups every three months if you are highly sexually active, had a recent ‘high risk’ sexual encounter, or you are at the beginning or end of a relationship".

For more information on STI tests, or to enquire about confidential STI tests at-home, visit LetsGetChecked.com.

Photo: Pexels

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