By Kasper Delaney Patterson & Rob Geoghegan
Sexually Transmitted Infections are on the rise in DIT, according to figures from DIT GP, Doctor Brendan Clune.
The greater danger around the spread of STIs stem from many factors that have arisen in recent years. Students are “forming different relationships” to previous years, with students refraining from “secure relationships”. This has lead to an increase in gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and other quite serious infections. “I think…with STIs there is a huge increase I suppose…but there is no particular epidemic or anything like that”.
The rise in STIs in both DIT and nationwide has also been attributed not specifically to more people getting infections, but to the adaptation of modern technology allowing for more efficient diagnoses.
The total number of students screened for the year 2015/2016 was 490, with 269 being “symptomatic”, which is where the patient suspects that they might have something going on. A further 221 were “asymptomatic”, which is where the patient doesn’t have any problems but would just like to have a routine test.
Dr. Clune went on to say, “I think our figures are similar to any other colleges. I don’t think DIT students are doing anything radically different from Trinity students or UCD students or anything like that. I think think they are largely the same. We want to encourage students to act responsibly, if they do take a risk they should get a check, if they have symptoms they should come make an appointment without any embarrassment”.
To raise awareness amongst students is also very important, Dr. Clune said, and that while many events in college help to alleviate the spread of STIs, the more people that go in to get checked the easier it will become to curb further outbreaks in early days. “We just need to keep raising awareness. We recently just won an award for our ‘no umbrella campaign’… We want to highlight that sexual diseases are common, that there is effective treatment for it and that we are accessible for students, there should be no embarrassment around it”.
The clinic in DIT is a satellite clinic with Saint James’ hospital and that’s where DIT get their clinical expertise. While it costs €20 for a screening in the DIT clinic, the advantage of the DIT clinic is they have the medication on campus. Which is an advantage instead of someone going to a doctor and then getting a prescription.
Dr. Miriam Daly, the Director of the Women’s Health Programme in the Irish College of General Practitioners, said that “In 2016, 31% of all cases were diagnosed in general practice, including 50% of all female cases”, in relation to an alarming increase in gonorrhoea. “Up to week 46, 2016, there have been 1,494 cases of gonorrhoea among men compared with 934 for the same period last year, an increase of 60%.
Where data is available, 55% of these cases have been in men who have sex with men (MSM). There were 52 cases in women in November 2016, three times the number of cases in women in October 2016”.
The figures for last week, beginning the 16th October 2017, help to paint a better picture of the scale of STI diagnoses in the country.
DITSU purchases almost 9,000 condoms every year, and they are freely available from any SU office. Practicing safe sex is imperative to stop the further spread of STIs around campuses.
If any of the points raised in this article affected you, please contact:
Gay Switchboard Ireland: 01-8721055, [email protected]
Health Service Executive Ireland: 041 6850300, [email protected]