There has been a surge in sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) within the past year, with cases of syphilis increasing by over 22%.
Provisional data for 2018 from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows a 7% increase in STIs in 2018 (12,513 cases) compared to 2017 (11,690). The predominant STIs in Ireland are chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital herpes, and syphilis.
Most cases occur in young people aged between 15 and 24. For example, 49% of chlamydia cases, 39% of herpes cases, and 32% of gonorrhoea cases all come from this age grouping.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are also most affected by STIs. In 2018, 69% of Lymphogranuloma venereum cases, 62% of syphilis cases, and 40% gonorrhoea cases came from this cohort
The HSE said it has implemented a multi-faceted response to STI and HIV notifications. A safer sex and prevention campaign aligned to #Respectprotect messages for young audiences (18-30 years) and Man2man.ie campaign messaging for MSM are running across social and digital media.
The HSE National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS) distributes free condoms and lubricant to third-level colleges, festivals and nightlife venues, NGOs, and community organisations. Condoms are also distributed to MSM-specific social venues such as saunas, bars, clubs, and pubs.