Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Ireland, and one outreach group says the problem is even worse than official statistics show because the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) is overstretched and as a result is under-reporting the crisis.

According to the Irish Sunday Times, the Society for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Ireland maintains that “poor gathering of statistics by the HSE and chronic under-reporting by overstretched doctors mean the true volume of Ireland’s STI epidemic is unknown.”

The available statistics on their own show an alarming rise in the number of STDs reported in Ireland. Cases of herpes have jumped from 358 in 2002 to 1,226 in 2011. Syphilis reporting has more than doubled from 303 cases in 2002 to 653 last year, while gonorrhea cases jumped from 214 in 2002 to 834 last year.

Chlamydia presents the biggest STD problem in Ireland, with 1,922 reported cases in 2002, rising to 6,407 in 2011.

The HSE admits its statistics are less than complete. A report issued for the period of April through June of this year said there was “missing aggregate data returns from two HSE areas.”

Derek Freedman, a physician at the Dublin sexual health clinic Guide, told the Times that the HSE’s methodology for compiling STD stats is flawed.

“The statistics give an indication of the situation, but they do not represent the full volume of cases that we are seeing. They in fact fall far short of what is actually going on,” he said.

The HSE says it is implementing electronic reporting methods with a goal of creating a reliable national database to track the STD problem.

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