Almost 80 per cent of Irish adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have no plans to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 2020, a new survey has found, in findings described as “shocking” by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
Over 1,000 Irish adults took part in the survey, run by medical company Let’s Get Checked, with just 22 per cent of respondents saying they plan to get checked for an STI in 2020.
Just 14 per cent of respondents had been checked for an STI in 2019, the survey found, as young people increasingly move online for the answers to their medical questions. Some 37 per cent have researched STI symptoms on the internet.
In a press statement, USI Vice-President for Welfare Róisín O’Donovan called the figures “quite shocking”.
“It’s good to see there is an awareness of STIs among students but students need to make sure it’s coming from a reliable source”, she said.
Dr Dominic Rowley, the medical director of Let’s Get Checked, called the findings “alarming”, and added: “There is an epidemic of STIs in the western world at the moment. This is something that urgently needs to be addressed.”
HSE figures show a seven per cent increase in STI notifications between 2017 and 2018, with young people – those aged between 15 and 24 – particularly affected.
Instances of gonorrhoea and chlamydia rose by seven per cent, while cases of syphilis were up by 22 per cent.
When it came to self-diagnosis, the survey found that those who Google an STI often do it after showing symptoms. Many STIs, however, do not show any symptoms at all.
Rowley warned: “While checking for symptoms online from a trusted source is of course reasonable, it is vital to remember that many STIs are silent, particularly [in] women. My huge concern about this is that silent STIs can lead to serious problems later in life, such as infertility.”