STIs are on the rise across Simcoe Muskoka

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit in Barrie, Ont. (Mike Arsalides/CTV News)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise in Simcoe Muskoka. The health unit reports the "disturbing trend" saw cases increase over the past two years.

From 2019 to 2021, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reports cases of syphilis jumped by four to five times.

Before 2019, there was an average of less than 10 syphilis cases per year. The health unit says that number hit 50 reported cases in 2021.

Meanwhile, gonorrhea cases jumped annually from 120 in 2020 to 265 in 2021.

And the SMDHU associate medical officer of health says many cases may have gone unreported.

"It is important to keep in mind that access to health care during the pandemic has been limited, and the number of cases may be higher than we realize," says Dr. Colin Lee.

The health unit encourages sexually active individuals who have a new partner or multiple partners in the last two years, have engaged in unprotected sex, or have STI symptoms to contact a health-care provider.

Dr. Lee says many STIs go undiagnosed.

"People don't always show symptoms, or people don't recognize that the symptom is due to an STI, and the only way to know is to get tested."

Testing for STIs can include a urine test or blood work.

"Most STIs can be treated with free medication that can be accessed through your health-care provider," SMDHU states.

Complete information about STIs, including symptoms and treatment, is available online or by calling 705-721-7520; press # to speak with a Sexual Health Public Health Nurse.