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Media Release: Gonorrhea rates remain high in HPEC. If you’re having condomless sex, get tested.

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/April 27, 2021 – In June 2020, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) declared an outbreak of gonorrhea, and the area continues to be in outbreak status. HPEPH continues to experience an unprecedented number of gonorrhea cases, with a 200% increase in 2020 compared to the previous 5-year average. From 2015-2019, HPEPH had an average of 39 gonorrhea cases that were diagnosed per year. In comparison, 79 cases were reported in 2020, and 25 cases have been reported in the first 4 months of 2021 alone.

Individuals from a variety of age groups, relationship statuses, and sexual orientation are testing positive – meaning that anyone who is having condomless/unprotected sex could be at risk. Just because you or your partner(s) don’t have symptoms, doesn’t mean you’re not infected. Many people have sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and don’t know it, which means it can easily be passed on to others. If you’ve had condomless/unprotected sex, have a new partner, or have more than one partner, get tested.

Individuals are also encouraged to consider getting tested, even if they only have one partner. If one individual is engaging in sexual activities outside of a relationship, they could pass STIs on. STIs can be spread through unprotected oral, vaginal and anal sex with a partner who is already infected. Sharing sex toys can also spread infection.

“Since over 50% of men and women will not have symptoms of gonorrhea, you might not know you have the infection unless you get tested, “says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “Knowing your status is important. When untreated, gonorrhea and other STIs can lead to serious complications, such as long-term illness, infection, and infertility. To reduce your risk, know your partners’ status and use protection. If you’re unsure of your partners’ STI status or your own, get tested.”

HPEPH is unable to offer STI testing at the current time, as resources have been redeployed to support the COVID-19 pandemic response. To get tested for STIs, contact your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, contact a walk-in clinic to discuss testing and treatment options. For more information about STIs, visit our website or call the HPEPH Sexual Health Team at 613-966-5500, extension 243.

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Media Contacts:

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
etubbs@hpeph.ca  

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist
mhyland@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

HPEPH is currently offering vaccine to eligible groups. In order to keep our phone lines free for those who are currently eligible, please do NOT contact us to inquire about vaccinations unless you have been invited to participate.

Groups Currently Eligible to Book at Ontario.ca/bookvaccine:

  • Individuals turning 50 and over in 2021
  • Health care or personal support workers
  • Childcare workers (licensed & unlicensed)
  • Education workers (including special education)
  • Residents and staff in care homes and group living settings (including essential caregivers)
  • People with highest-risk health conditions and their caregivers (for example, pregnancy, organ transplant, multiple sclerosis)
  • People with high risk health conditions and their caregivers (for example, BMI of over 40, chemotherapy, Down syndrome)
  • People with at-risk health conditions (for example, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, diabetes)
  • Chronic home health care recipients
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, including members of their household
  • People who cannot work from home (Group One and Group Two)

Groups Eligible to Book at Pharmacies:

Groups Eligible to Pre-Register

For booking information for eligible individuals, please visit  hpePublicHealth.ca/covid-19-vaccines/

CURRENT RESTRICTIONS IN HPEPH

A province-wide Stay-at-Home order is in effect, and requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. Please avoid close contact with anyone outside your household. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO COVID-19?

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.