Editorial: Playing it safe

Trent Ernst, Editor

This one goes out to all the single ladies. And the single laddies. It’s time we had the talk.

You know … THE talk.

Yes, we’re about to break out the forbidden words out of the vault where they are stored. Children, avert your eyes. People with weaker constitutions may want to sit and possibly wave themselves with a fan. Happily married people can hold hands and gloat or point fingers and laugh at their single friends.

Because there’s a crisis happening.

In Vancouver, nearly 500 cases of syphilis were reported. That’s more than double the number that were reported a decade ago.

Syphilis is an STI, and the S stands for ess eee ex.

Well, I guess it stands for ess eee ex you eh el el why, but you know what I’m getting at here.

People are doing it, and they’re doing it wrong.

You’d thought we’d have learned from the HIV epidemic of the eighties, doing it unprotected can dangerous.

And it’s not just doing it that’s causing it. According to the BC Medical Journal, 15 percent of new cases are being spread orally. No, I’m not talking about kissing. Because unlike HIV, syphilis is quite happy to be spread by other means other than intercourse.

And it’s not just syphilis. In 2014, the rate of genital chlamydia increased to 288.4 per 100,000 population, “continuing the overall provincial trend of a steady increase since 1998,” says the BC Centre for Disease control.

Genital gonorrhea increased to 38.9 per 100,000 population, continuing an overall steady increase since 1998.

This, you might think is a Vancouver problem, or at least a big city problem. And you’d be wrong.

The highest rate of chlamydia outside of Vancouver? The North. The highest rate of gonorrhea outside of Vancouver? You guessed it. Indeed, nearly all forms of STIs are on the upswing.

In 2014, there were over a thousand cases of chlamydia reported in the North. To put that in context, that’s about a third the number of cases as reported in Vancouver.

In the Northeast, nearly 300 cases were reported.

There were only nine reported cases of Gonorrhea in the Northeast, about ten percent of the cases in the North. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but here’s the deal. Gonorrhea? Is what they call an asymptomatic disease. This means that the number of people who are diagnosed with it are a small percentage of the actual people who have it.

And some people don’t understand what’s happening or the symptoms don’t bother them. Some people just think that it’s normal to feel like it burns when you pee.

But that doesn’t mean that the next person in the chain won’t feel the symptoms more strongly. And that next person? Could be you, if you’re not taking proper precautions. You know what I’m talking about.

I know this is an uncomfortable topic for some, but it’s gotta be said: don’t assume you’re safe simply because you live in Tumbler Ridge. Because that’s a dangerous game. So before you tap that, wrap that.

We’ve only touched on three STIs. There are at least 20 different ways that doing the nasty can turn nasty, from lice and scabies to warts and herpes and the aforementioned HIV. And while some STIs can be treated, including many of the aforementioned, there’s a number of STIs (herpes and warts and HIV) that are caused by viruses. While there are medications to treat the symptoms, there is currently no cure.

So if you are a player, play safe.