Health and Welfare cautions that “There is continuing complacency among Canadians about AIDS.” The warning came with the release of the 1985 statistics foe Sexually Transmitted diseases (STDs) showing an encouraging overall decrease in rates for such diseases as gonorrhea and syphilis. However, complications from these infections, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, can lead to tubal scarring, ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo implants in the fallopian tubes instead of in the uterus) have doubled in the last 10 years.
In 1072, 2,449 ectopic pregnancies (EP) were reported. By 1982/83 (latest available figures), the number was 4,911, representing one ectopic pregnancy for every 91 pregnancies. Rarely does a woman with an EP successfully manage to carry the pregnancy to term, since there is a great risk of a life-threatening haemorrhage. While EP is a recognized consequence of STD, it has also been linked to complications following abortion.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, a female STD, which can cause infertility or ectopic pregnancy, showed a decline in 1982/83, the latest year for which data are available. The greatest decline was shown in women 15-19 years, a 4.4 per cent decrease. However, these statistics (294.3 cases per 100,000 women) show that reported cases of PID have increased by 63 per cent since 1971. The age group at highest risk for contracting PID is 20 to 24 years (425.1 per 100,000); then the 15 to 19 year age group (rate as above).
National statistics on STDs do not tell the complete story. Health and Welfare points out that several forms – non-gonoccal urethritis and cervicitis, genital warts, trichomoniasis and scabies – are not required notifiable diseases. All five, however, occur “at least as frequently as gonorrhea,” according to the Canada Diseases Weekly Report.
Three 1985 surveys show that genital warts, for example, are diagnosed more than twice as frequently as gonorrhea – and there were 40,741 gonorrhoea cases. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick reported cases of genital warts are 250 per cent higher than gonorrhea cases. In Ontario genital warts cases are 220 per cent higher and in Alberta, 200 per cent higher. Data from only these four provinces were published.
AIDS statistics are published with other STD statistics. Latest AIDS figures (cases reported as of November 17, 1986) show 786 cases; 52.3 per cent have died. Risk factors for exposure to the virus are homosexual/bisexual activity (81.8 per cent), use of intravenous drugs (0.4 per cent), blood transfusion or receipt of blood products (3.6 per cent), heterosexual contact with a person at risk (2.3 per cent), origin in an endemic area (7.6 per cent). Parent at risk (1.8 per cent), and unknown risk factors (2.5 per cent).
These figures show a slight increase in 1986 (0.8 per cent) in the number of cases reported in homosexual or bisexual men over 1985. The risk to persons from an endemic (Africa and Haiti) area decreased (11 per cent in 1985) while the risk to intravenous drug users remained the same. The risk from contaminated blood went up (2.87 per cent in 1985), heterosexual contact remained the same risk factor, and unknown risk factors went down (2.9 per cent in 1985).
Canada Diseases Report noted that “the number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Canada is doubling every 12 months.” American figures from the Centers for Disease Control stand at 27,773 cases, the number of cases doubling every 13 months.