You can’t always be sure about what is happening inside your body. Sneaky viruses and infections may be taking their toll on you without your knowledge. Chlamydia is one of them, and it’s more common in Oshawa than you might think.
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in all of Canada. The infection targets young adults more than any other age group.
It is a bacterial infection spread through oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse and although it can remain undetected for years, it will remain infectious.
Oshawa has the highest rate of chlamydia in Durham Region. In 2013, 243 men in Oshawa were treated for the infection, with nearly double that number of females, at 405 cases.
However, in Ontario and the Durham Region, chlamydia rates have recently begun a downward trend.
Lindsay LaBarre, a public health nurse in the Durham Region, says it’s hard to pinpoint the reason behind the decline.
“We don’t know if that’s attributed to more people getting tested and treated, less people seeking testing, more awareness, or safer sex practices,” she says. “There’s a lot of behaviours that goes into these statistics so we can’t say what’s causing these changes.”
She encourages young adults to get tested after changing sexual partners or having unprotected sex.
Often, chlamydia and gonorrhea are asymptomatic – the person doesn’t even know they’ve been infected. Up to 70 per cent of women and 50 per cent men don’t even know they have it, statistics show.
“Sometimes people don’t realize that they’ve even been in contact with it, and that can be very scary for them to realize they’ve been at risk and be diagnosed with an infection,” LaBarre explains.
If symptoms do occur, males may have a burning sensation during urination, discharge from the penis, and tender testicles. Females who show signs may feel lower abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, and painful urination.
Because chlamydia is a bacterial disease, it can be cured with antibiotics. Most clients, LaBarre says, leave the clinic without a prescription. One dose is often enough.
The high chlamydia rates among young adults in Oshawa could make chlamydia a concern for the population of DC/UOIT. But no one on campus can estimate how many students may be infected due to lack of testing, and the fact that students will often go to off-campus clinics or doctors to be tested.
Erica Britton, from the Sexual Health Resource Centre at Durham College, knows STIs can hit a person physically and emotionally.
“There’s a lot of mental repercussion to having an STI. There’s a lot of stigma attached to it,” she explains.
Britton states STIs are not something to be ashamed of, and they are much more common than people think.
“The fact is, STIs are very, very, common. Chlamydia is very common, so much so that I’ve had students refer to it as the common cold of STIs,” she laughs.
Testing is free at clinics around the region, and treatment usually takes only one day. There are clinics in the Oshawa Centre, Pickering Town Centre, and Port Perry at 181 Perry Street.