June 17, 2014
With the ‘heat' of summer approaching, a new awareness campaign through bars and lounges in Meadow Lake and area aims to alert young adults and adults of all ages to the sexual disease risks of ‘making heat in the back seat'.
The goal of the Making Heat in the Back Seat – Know Your Risk campaign is to raise awareness of risk factors for transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as Chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and sexually transmitted blood borne infections (STBBIs) that include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Through greater awareness, people can choose to avoid risky behaviours and be educated about the need to take precautions if they choose to engage in risky activities.
Anne Duriez, of Prairie North Health Region's (PNHR's) Population Health Promotion Unit, explains that patrons at participating establishments in and around Meadow Lake will see disposable coasters that feature eye-catching, tastefully discrete graphics along with a QR code and link to take viewers directly to a special Making Heat in the Back Seat webpage. The page was developed by AIDS Saskatoon in partnership with PNHR. The campaign was initially developed and launched by Sunrise Health Region, based in Yorkton, SK.
Access to the webpage is easy and discreet. The page identifies a variety of intimate contact activities and their related risks of acquiring or passing on sexually transmitted diseases.
Contact activities range from no-risk and low-risk such as sharing toilet seats, tooth brushes, razors, or manicure and pedicure equipment; across the spectrum to high-risk activities including having unprotected sex, sharing drug paraphernalia, or sharing or using unsterilized tattooing or piercing equipment.
Duriez notes that with the QR code and link to the webpage, individuals can privately and confidentially obtain information on sexual health services and supports available in Prairie North Health Region, at AIDS Saskatoon, and across the province.
The webpage shows the new HIV testing guidelines for Saskatchewan and provides information on common concerns people have when they are considering having an HIV test done. Information is available about supports for people who have tested positive for HIV and for their families.
Duriez says the reasoning behind the Making Heat in the Back Seat campaign is simple: “Youth are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections including Chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Left untreated, these infections can have significant consequences for the reproductive health of youth when they reach adulthood.”
“Sexual behaviour including having multiple partners and using condoms inconsistently puts youth at risk for HIV, hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted blood borne infections,” Duriez states. “It is especially important for young people to know the risk involved in activities that might include the exchange of potentially infected body fluids, including blood, vaginal or anal secretions, and semen or breast milk.”
Duriez explains that HIV and Hep C infections are a significant concern in Saskatchewan. In 2012, Saskatchewan had about 17 new HIV infections per 100,000 people, for a total of 177 newly-acquired HIV infections in the province. This number is more than two and a half times higher than the infection rates for Alberta and Ontario which have the next highest rates of HIV in Canada.
Saskatchewan is also unique in Canada in terms of the method by which HIV is being transmitted. In Saskatchewan, the highest risk activities are: 1) injection drug use, 2) heterosexual sex, and 3) men having sex with men. In the rest of Canada, men who have sex with men are at the highest risk of HIV infection.
Duriez adds that youths and young adults are not the only groups at risk of acquiring or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases. In Saskatchewan, the age groups with the highest numbers of new HIV infections are males ages 30-39, and 40-49. For females, the highest numbers are also in the 30-39 years age group, followed by the 20-29 years grouping, 40-49 year olds, then 50-plus, and 15-19 year old females.
Child-bearing women with undetected HIV run the risk of passing the infection to their infants through childbirth or breast-feeding.
Approximately one in four HIV positive people do not know that they are infected. People who are unaware that they have HIV are believed to be spreading more than half of the new HIV infections. The only way to know for certain whether a person has HIV is to be tested.
For more information about sexually transmitted diseases, speak with your health professional.
Check out the Making Heat in the Back Seat webpage at:
For a printer-friendly version of the news release, click here.
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Linda Lewis, PNHR Communications Officer