By Terry Vanderheyden

OTTAWA, January 20, 2006 ( – A spike in sexually transmitted diseases is being described by Canadian gynecologists as an “epidemic.”

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) have highlighted alarming statistics from Canada’s Public Health Agency indicating that since 1997 there has been an 80% increase in gonorrhea, a 70% increase in Chlamydia, and a staggering 908% increase in syphilis rates in the country.

The group warned, additionally, that 400 women die each year as a result of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, the cause of cervical cancer – killing 40 times more women each year than AIDS. It is now estimated that at least 75% of Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime.

While the majority of the 598 cases of syphilis diagnosed in 2004 were in homosexual men, 15-24 year old women accounted for the great majority of Chlamydia cases, at 30,000 in 2004. Men aged 20 to 29 accounted for the majority of the 4,013 cases of gonorrhea reported in 2004.

SOGC Executive Director Dr. Vyta Senikas warned that many teens do not realize that oral sex can spread STDs. “I think what teens need to especially realize is that even with oral sex, an individual can become infected.” She warned additionally that “these numbers may continue to spiral out of control.” Chlamydia, which may not manifest any symptoms until very late in the disease, is a major cause of the increasing prevalence of infertility in women.

In Alberta, STDs accounted for 62% of all reported diseases in 2004, almost twice the number compared to the most recent statistic for 2000, at 37%.