31 July 2014

STI rates in Newfoundland and Labrador #nlpoli

Saskatoon Health Region released a report on July 18 on the rates of sexually transmitted infections in the city in 2013. 

A CBC report earlier this week quoted the deputy regional health officer as saying that social media was having an impact on the rates of syphilis in the city. 

"We do know that meet-ups using social media has led to an increase in these types of infections, and even outbreaks of syphilis, in other parts of the country," Julie Kryzanowski, the region's deputy medical health officer, told CBC News Monday.

That’s actually a follow-on from a similar story in April in which Kryzanowski’s predecessor said that the regional health authority had interviewed some of the patients who reported they “were using certain social media sites to meet sex partners.”

So that got your humble e-scribbler wondering about STI rates in this province.

Sexually transmitted infections are one of those things that doctors have to report to the government by law.  The Department of Health and Community Services’ public health section keeps track of a host of reportable diseases and publishes monthly and annual rates for the province as a whole and for each of the four regional health authorities.

DHCS doesn’t  offer numbers for specific cities and towns in the province but you can still compare the rates in Saskatoon (per 100,000 population) to the rate Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole, so you at least are comparing apples to apples.


Saskatoon Number

Saskatoon Rate (per 100K)

NL  Number

NL Rate






Hep C




















The population of Saskatoon in 2006 was 202,340. To put that in perspective,  Newfoundland and Labrador’s population in the 2006 census was 505,469.

The numbers in that table for Saskatoon came from the Star-Phoenix story linked above.  Basically, you can see that compared to Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatoon has a pretty significant problem with sexually transmitted infections both in terms of the rate and in the absolute number of cases.

Within Newfoundland and Labrador, there’s been an interesting change in some of the numbers over time.  Purely for the sake of comparison,  take a look at the numbers for chlamydia.  The chart below shows the number of cases for each health region in the province, by year,  with the stack giving you the total number of cases for the year for the province as a whole.


The light blue bar is for Eastern Health.  Not surprisingly,  it has the most cases. It also has the largest population of the four regions.  Central and Western region are in the middle.

But look at Labrador-Grenfell, the region with the smallest population of the four.  The chart below shows the side by side comparison, by year.  In 2013,  Lab-Grenfell had about 20% of the cases that Eastern had but go back about eight years.  Not as much of a difference.  The number of cases in Labrador-Grenfell has dropped off in the past couple of years, while the cases in Eastern region have climbed dramatically.chlamydia 2

Whether social media are contributing to the climb in Eastern,  the basic reason for the cases is that people are having unprotected sex.