MORE than 1,000 sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been reported in Cork and Kerry so far this year.
Figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show 1,097 STIs had been reported in the HSE South region, which comprises Cork and Kerry, up to week 47 of this year.
Chlamydia trachomatis infection was the most reported STI (789 cases) in the region followed by Gonorrhoea (145 cases) and Herpes simplex (genital) at 102 cases.
So far this year, 34 cases of HIV have been reported in Cork and Kerry, 26 cases of Syphilis (early infectious) and one case of Trichomoniasis.
The HPSC data shows that nationally, 9,905 STIs have been reported so far this year, a significant reduction on the same period last year.
A total of 13,528 STIs had been reported nationally up to week 47 in 2019 — a difference of more than 25%.
Speaking to The Echo, Dr Martin Davoren, Executive Director of the Sexual Health Centre, Cork said that he wasn’t surprised by the HSE figures. He pointed out that at the very beginning of the lockdown many STI clinics nationally closed.
“We were actually very fortunate in Cork and the STI clinic at the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital remained operational throughout.”
Dr Davoren said many of their own services have remained busy this year, including a new free condom postal service introduced in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. So far, the centre has distributed more than 15,000 free condoms through the service.
“We were very aware at the time that many STI clinics were closing and there wouldn’t be the same services available to the public.
“We know for a fact that condoms are the most effective way of preventing an unplanned pregnancy and preventing STI transmission.”
The Sexual Health Centre had to suspend its rapid HIV testing service during the initial lockdown, but Dr Davoren said that when it resumed there was significant interest in the service.
“We had a waiting list for individuals who were looking for a rapid test in July — we had a very busy July and August,” he said. He said the centre is currently as busy as 2019 levels.