A recent study by Let’sGetChecked has found that 4 out of 5 adults between the ages of 18 to 24 have no plans to get tested for STIs in 2020. This is not exclusively an issue faced by this age bracket with people between the age of 25-34 having plans to get checked being as low as 9%. But these numbers are more worrying when you consider that both age brackets are more likely to research STI symptoms online. 37% of those in the 18-24 bracket has researched STI symptoms online.
Aside from the fact that online research can be at times unreliable, many STIs have no symptoms. Róisín O’Donovan, the Vice President for Welfare for the Union of Students in Ireland stated: “It’s good to see there is an awareness of STIs among students but students need to make sure it’s coming from a reliable source such as the HSE website, sexualwellbeing.ie. We encourage all students to take care of their sexual health while in college, and get checked!”
These statistics are more worrying when you consider that STI notifications have gone up. Gonorrhea and chlamydia have each gone up by 7%, the average amount that STI notifications have gone up, with syphilis in particular having gone up 22%.
“There is an epidemic of STIs in the western world at the moment.” Dr. Dominic Rowley, Medical Director of LetsGetChecked commented in response to the research.”This is something that urgently needs to be addressed. The findings are particularly alarming in this era of increased information and ease of access to testing.”
Dr. Rowley went on to say: “While checking for symptoms online from a trusted source is of course, reasonable it is vital to remember that many STIs are silent, particularly women. My huge concern about this is that silent STIs can lead to serious problems later in life, such as infertility. For this reason, we suggest getting regular STI checkups every 3 months if you consider yourself to be highly sexually active, had a recent ‘high risk’ sexual encounter, or you are at the beginning or end of a relationship.”