YELLOWKNIFE — Health-care providers in the Northwest Territories are learning how to use rapid tests for syphilis in response to an outbreak of the sexually transmitted disease across the territory.
The N.W.T.'s chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, recently received special access from Health Canada to use the tests, which are awaiting formal federal approval.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Ameeta Singh recently oversaw a 19-month clinical trial of the dual syphilis and HIV rapid tests in Alberta.
That study found the tests, which provide results in 15-minutes, were more than 90 per cent accurate.
The territorial government says syphilis rates in the N.W.T. increased 253 per cent between Jan. 1, 2019 and Apr. 1, 2022, with a total of 222 cases detected during that period.
While the majority of syphilis cases have been in Yellowknife, there have been some reported in every region of the territory.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2022.
The Canadian Press