Positive Cases of Chlamydia in Dublin Have Increased By One Third
Positive cases of Chlamydia increased by 32 per cent in 2014, according to new figures released by the Dublin Well Woman Centre.
The organisation’s 2014 Annual Report shows that 253 positive cases of the Chlamydia infection were recorded in 2014, an increase of 32 per cent on the same figure for 2013. This is the second highest figure recorded over the last 13 years.
The number of people presenting for testing for Chlamydia also reached the highest level ever in 2014, with 5042 tests conducted across the organisations three Dublin clinics. This is a 20 per cent increase on the same figure for 2013.
Alison Begas, Chief Executive of the Dublin Well Woman Centre, says that despite increased awareness about sexual health, prevalence rates for certain STIs are still rising at an alarming rate and more needs to be done to reduce the spread of these infections. “These results highlight the need to expedite publication of the National Sexual Health Strategy. The Well Woman Centre takes a proactive approach in promoting the availability and importance of testing, however we are only one service provider, and access to standardized testing must be improved nationwide. These diseases are becoming more prevalent, and we need action from the HSE now.”
The Dublin Well Woman Centre 2014 Annual Report also shows a marked increase in the use of long acting reversible contraception (LARCs). The figures show a 27 per cent increase in the number of LARCs fitted in 2014 when compared to 2013. This is the first year that the number of LARCs fitted exceeded one thousand – the total for the year was 1,117.
Dr Shirley McQuade, Medical Director, says: “LARCs are highly effective, have minimal side effects and are a ‘fit and forget’ solution to contraception. Women can choose between an implant that is placed under the skin of the inner upper arm or one of several forms of intrauterine device. Younger women tend to choose the implant, whereas older women prefer the intrauterine option. LARCS are often used by women who have difficulty remembering to take an oral contraceptive pill correctly or who simply prefer the ‘fit and forget’ approach.”
Dr McQuade went on to call for an information campaign to promote awareness of LARCs in younger women: “When we start a discussion on contraception with a patient, many younger women assume they cannot choose an intrauterine method it they have not had a child. In fact, we fit more intrauterine LARCs for women who have never been pregnant than we do for women who have had one or more children, and it’s important that women are made aware that a LARC may be the ideal form of contraception to meet their needs”.
A further trend highlighted in the Dublin Well Woman Centre 2014 Annual Report is the decline in women attending their free cervical screening tests. Since a peak of nearly 10,000 tests in 2009, numbers presenting for their free smear test have declined year on year with just 7,198 presenting for a test in 2014, a drop of 26 per cent on the 2009 figure.
The greatest fall in numbers attending for smear tests is in the 25-29 age group, which may be linked to emigration in this group. The other aspect of note is the reduction in older women attending for testing. Initially the smear programme did seem to increase the numbers of middle aged women getting tested but this appears to have levelled off. The average age for diagnosis of cervical cancer is 44 so it is important that this age group is seen.
The Dublin Well Woman Centre is a not-for-profit organisation and is a registered charity.
For further details, please go to www.wellwomancentre.ie