Bars and restaurants aren't the only things getting busy after quarantine. After an overall decrease in the number of sexually transmitted infections in April and May, Montreal has now recorded a rise over the past couple of months. They're now back to more regular levels, but numbers are still below those from the same period last year.

According to Dr. Sarah-Amélie Mercure of the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, the increase can be explained by several factors. 

"Since deconfinement began in June," she told MTL Blog, there has been "a resumption of testing routines by individuals, a resumption of the provision of sexual health services, and a return to sexual activities involving a risk of STI transmission by individuals who had reduced these interactions during the period of confinement."

Official figures shared with MTL Blog by the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal show that, in April 2020, only 441 bacterial STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) were recorded in Montreal. In May, 461 were recorded.

Compared to the same two months last year, there were 1,476 fewer declared transmissions.

The uptick came in the following months. 747 bacterial STIs were reported in June 2020 and 974 were reported in July — still fewer than the 1,027 cases found in June 2019 and 1,280 found in July 2019.

"From an overall public health perspective," Dr. Mercure explained, "it would be more appropriate to characterize the current epidemiological situation as a gradual return to expected STI levels."

The decrease during quarantine can be attributed to people staying home and not conducting any "non-essential" medical treatments. 

"The population was asked to stay at home and to postpone any medical appointments deemed non-urgent. It is likely that most people considered that their regular screening could be postponed," Dr. Mercure said.

Moreover, "doctors and nurses were directed by the government to offload some medical activities that were not considered a priority and to focus on teleconsultation activities as much as possible."

"Since STI screening requires face-to-face interaction to obtain the required specimens, it is likely that this temporary decrease in the supply of sexual health services from the health care system may have contributed to the decrease in STIs reported to public health."

Social distancing and adherence to public health recommendations may also have "reduced the number of sexual encounters that carry a risk of STI transmission."

Now, with deconfinement measures, Quebecers might be more inclined to get into situations where they might contract an STI. 

The CIUSSS encourages "sexually active people to respect social distancing measures as much as possible by adapting their sexual practices, using condoms, and adopting or resuming a screening routine as directed by their health professional."

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean glory holes

This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.

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