A health authority in Newfoundland has released a warning to its residents that the number of cases of syphilis has spiked in the past year. According to a news article from The Telegram, the number of cases prior to 2014 in the eastern region of the province was usually less than five a year. Reported cases peaked at 32 in 2015 and following a public awareness campaign, numbers decreased to 21 in 2016. These education efforts targeted at safer sex practices seem to have a limited effect in that the number of reported cases rose to 42 in the January 2017 to February 2018 time period.
Most shocking is the high co-infection rates of HIV. Nearly 24% of those infected with syphilis also tested positive for HIV. Of course, if you have read My Child, My Chance, this will be less of a surprise to you. In the chapter, The Silence is Deafening, we tackle five Truth-Benders – half-truths that have perpetuated our society about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), particularly HIV. Although we advocate for “safer sex” through the use of condoms, we point to the evidence that confirms condom use isn’t 100% effective in preventing the spread of STIs.
Despite continuing safer sex education campaigns, the AIDS scare of the 80s and 90s has worn off and people are engaging in riskier, unprotected sex with disastrous outcomes. Instead of warning our kids of these continued risks, our school sex ed curriculums are downplaying them in favor of ideas like free love and reducing stigma. We can rely on schools to inform our kids on how to have all kinds of sex but not to fully inform them of the risks of such. It is our responsibility as parents to educate ourselves and engage our kids in uncomfortable but vitally important conversations about their physical and emotional health as it relates to sex. Read more about this topic by purchasing My Child, My Chance here. For more medical information about STIs, click here to be redirected to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health.