Swedish women hit harder by STD rise: study

Gonorrhoea and syphilis are making a comeback in Sweden, with the number of reported cases among young women soaring by nearly 60 percent in 2010.

According to new statistics from the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet), there was a 38 percent rise in reported cases of the two diseases among Swedes in general.

Worst hit, however, are young women between 15 and 24, where the number of cases increased by 57 percent.

“We don’t really know why, more than that women clearly aren’t afraid of being with new partners without using protection,” said Inga Velicko, epidemiologist at the Institute.

A study mapping out Swedish sexual habits presented earlier in April showed that only 30 percent of young Swedes use a condom during sex.

One of the reasons behind the disappointing numbers is that young Swedes put too much trust in contraceptive pills and too little in condoms, according to Karin Stenqvist, an expert on sexually transmitted disease from Gothenburg University.

“Because the contraceptive pill is supposed to make you 99 percent safe from unwanted pregnancy and the condom 92 percent, many feel that the pill is safer. But that only applies if the pill is taken meticulously,” she told the Local at the time.

As a rule, the recommendations in Sweden are to use both the pill and a condom. The former to avoid unwanted pregnancy and the latter to avoid STDs. But according to Karin Stenqvist this works against the use of a condom.

“This is not a feasible alternative for the broad public and there are few young people that choose to use both. Instead the condom becomes a second choice and often is not used at all,” she said.

According to Velicko, young people today are also less scared of HIV than before, which also leads to fewer using the condom as their contraceptive of choice.

“It is seen as a chronic disease and not necessarily something you have to die from,” Velicko said.

She also pointed out that many STDs show no symptoms at all and many suferers are unaware they carry a disease.

842 people were reported to have contracted gonorrhoea in Sweden last year, of which more than half were from the greater Stockholm area.

199 cases of Syphilis were reported last year, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year.

In the case of Chlamydia the numbers have dropped slightly but the there is an increasing trend in Chlamydia cases since 1997 in Sweden.

Syphilis and Chlamydia numbers are increasing most among Swedish 15-to-29 year olds.

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