Ahead of the festive season, St. James's Hospital has issued a warning about the consequences of unprotected sex and encouraging people to act responsibly this Christmas.
The GUIDE (Department of Genito Urinary Medicine and Infectious Diseases) Clinic at the hospital, which is the largest free STI and Infectious Disease service in Ireland, says that 'the combination of Christmas cheer and high alcohol consumption can often lead to risky sexual behaviour and the unwanted gift of an Sexually Transmitted Infection.'
Traditionally, Ireland records the greatest increases in STI detections between January and March, a fact which Dr. Dominic Rowley puts down to sexual activity over the festive holiday period.
The consultant in sexual health and HIV at the clinic believes that dating apps play a large role in the spread of infectious diseases. He said:
'All STIs are on the rise in Ireland. There is currently an outbreak of Gonorrhoea both in Ireland and worldwide, with 78 million people infected every year. The number of Irish people diagnosed with HIV has also increased by an alarming amount with a rise of between 35-50% last year.
'Despite this, there has been very little discussion around the issue, or calls to increase the funding for treatment. This could be due in part to the stigma that still surrounds the issue of STIs.
'With the growth of new technology, people are hooking up in new and different ways. Apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr have become increasingly popular and because of this, party goers can now meet up after a night out when decision making is perhaps not the sharpest.'
Dr. Rowley goes on to urge people to take precautions if they do the deed over Nollaig, adding:
'If the proper precautions are not taken, and if you don’t seek treatment after risky behaviour, the consequences can be serious. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause infertility if left untreated and diseases like HPV can lead to painful genital warts that can be slow to cure.'
Don't say you weren't warned.