Health experts in Canada are warning about the threat of sexually transmitted infections, which might be overlooked amid the coronavirus pandemic. Syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea infections have been on the rise globally for the last decade, per the CBC. Politico reports nine of the 10 Canadian provinces had declared STI outbreaks before COVID-19. Infections have dropped in such countries as Australia and the United Kingdom since stay-at-home orders were instituted. But experts fear people are only forgoing testing and treatment. That appeared to be the case in March as Canadian consumers rushed to buy up condoms, contraceptives, and lubricants. According to Statistics Canada, sales of "family planning products" jumped 30% in the second week of March, compared to the same period in 2019, and climbed 41% in the third week.
The jump was apparently triggered by rumors of a condom shortage after reports that a Malaysian factory might shut down. The domestic supply remains strong, and sales have since returned to normal. But access to health care is another concern, per the Canadian Press. Saskatoon Sexual Health in Saskatchewan—home to the highest provincial rate of chlamydia and HIV infections—has canceled drop-in clinics, classroom visits, and precautionary STI testing, for example. South of the border, health investigators normally tasked with tracing contacts of people with STDs are now tracking contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19, per the AP. Experts say STI testing will be key as people come out of isolation. But Nicole Pasquino, a clinic director in British Columbia, worries the consequences could be felt for "months and years to come," per Politico. (Read more sexual health stories.)