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Executive Summary - Report on Sexually Transmitted Infections in Canada: 2009

To obtain a copy of the report, send your request to:

Centre for Communicable Diseases and Infection Control
Public Health Agency of Canada
100 Eglantine Driveway, Health Canada Building
Room 1341, A.L. 0602C, Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
E-Mail: ccdic-clmti@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to be a significant and increasing public health concern in Canada. Reported rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have been rising since 1997. This report outlines the trends in these three nationally notifiable STIs, providing an overview of the descriptive epidemiology of these infections in Canada with a focus on the past decade (2000 to 2009). Longer term secular trends are presented for context.

Chlamydia continues to be the most commonly reported STI in Canada. Reported rates of chlamydia infections have increased by 71.3% since 2000. Since 1997, a steady increase in reported rates has been observed in both sexes and across all age groups, with the highest relative increase among males. Similar to the 2008 report findings, females remain disproportionately affected by chlamydia infection. In 2009, the reported rate among women was almost twice as high as that of their male counterparts, and 86.0% of reports among females were for those under the age of 30. Geographic variation was observed with the highest chlamydia rates reported in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Although the overall reported rate of gonorrhea has increased by 64.7% since 2000, in 2009, for the first time since 2005, the reported gonorrhea rates in both males and females dropped by more than 10% from the previous year. The majority of reported cases were among those under 30 years of age. Females between the ages of 15 to 24 and males between the ages of 20 to 24 accounted for the highest reported rates of gonorrhea. The older male population, particularly those over the age of 60, experienced a very high relative increase in the rate of reported cases, although reported rates remained low in this group compared to other age groups. Like chlamydia, the distribution of reported cases of gonorrhea varied geographically across Canada with highest rates reported in the Northwest Territories followed by Nunavut and Manitoba.

The overall reported rate of infectious syphilis has increased by 782.1% since 2000. Reported rates of infection were highest among males aged 25 to 39; the highest rates in females were reported among those between 20 and 29 years of age. Over the past decade, multiple outbreaks were reported across the country among both the men who have sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual populations.

Reported Cases and Rates (per 100,000 population) of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Infectious Syphilis, 2000, 2008 and 2009
Year Chlamydia Gonorrhea Infectious Syphilis
Cases Rates Cases Rates Cases Rates
2000 46,439 150.9 6,189 20.1 174 0.6
2008 82,919 248.8 12,723 38.2 1,482 4.4
2009 87,210 258.5 11,178 33.1 1,683 5.0