STI cases show significant drop

Wednesday November 25, 2015 Written by Published in Health

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases have dropped significantly in the past eight years, showing the country is becoming more contraception-savvy.


Ministry of Health statistics show cases of Chlamydia have dropped every year since 2008 when there were 170 positive cases reported. In 2013 there were only 39 cases, and 28 last year.

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be easily cured, and affects both men and women. However, if left untreated, Chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.

There were only six cases of hepatitis B reported last year and five in 2013. However there was a spike in hepatitis B cases in 2010 and 2012. There have been no cases of HIV reported in the Cook Islands since 2010, when there was only one. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease Aids.

A United Nations Aids Global Progress Report on the Cook Islands said STIs were common here.

The Second Generation Surveillance (SGS) conducted in 2006 showed a 22 per cent prevalence rate of Chlamydia, 46 per cent of these were between the ages of 15 to 29 years. After a robust intervention campaign, a repeat survey in 2012 showed a decrease in prevalence of 50 per cent.

The report said the current challenge was to reduce further the prevalence of STIs in the Cook Islands, particularly in light of reduced donor funding for HIV/STI intervention.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Health does not have statistics on herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).

Doctor Henry Tikaka told CI News recently this was probably because doctors could be recording it as something else, such as cold sores.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) recently announced nearly seven in 10 people under age 50 – more than 3.7 billion teens and adults worldwide – are infected with HSV-1, a highly infectious and incurable disease.

More than 1 billion people are infected with HSV-1 in the Western Pacific region, while Southeast Asia has nearly 1 billion cases, according to WHO’s first global estimates released last month.

Known as “oral herpes” and typically spread through kissing, oral sex and the use of shared objects like eating utensils, HSV-1 typically causes cold sores around the mouth.

But it can also cause genital herpes, which leads to painful blisters and ulcers in the anal and genital areas.  

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