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What do newspaper editors do?

November 12, 2009

I’m asking because Mark Lemstra’s latest column, “Fortitude needed to tackle high STI incidence“, contains a glaring contradiction in the first few paragraphs.

In 2000, Saskatchewan became the province with the highest incidence of chlamydia in Canada with a rate of 287 per 100,000 population. By 2007, the incidence rate of chlamydia in the province had risen to 440 cases per 100,000 population — almost double the national average.

Chlamydia infections are on the rise in Saskatchewan. The 289 cases per 100,000 population in 2004 had risen to 402 cases per 100,000 by 2007.

The numbers are close but not identical.  Perhaps they came from different sources?

Another issue I have is the mention of HIV as an STI without mentioning that many of the cases in Saskatoon are transmitted via shared drug needles.

Why does Lemstra use such bizarre numbers?  He’s supposed to be writing for a general audience.  Yeesh.  Instead of saying that “the highest risk group is girls aged 15 to 19 years, with an incidence of 2,730 per 100,000 population in 2007”, he could just say “about 2.7% of women aged 15 to 19 had an STI in 2007.”  Much clearer, no?  Of course, it’s much less dramatic.

I would also suspect that women are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI becuase they are more likely to have symptoms and seek medical attention.

Sorry for the scattershot comments.  I just don’t have it in me to spend the time rereading this column and composing a response.

Do many people actually read Lemstra’s columns?  I’m used to reading rather dry medical research papers but even I find it difficult to keep track of the litany of statistics.  What is the point?  What exactly does Lemstra believe that the health region should be doing?  I know he’s all about “evidence based policies” but which policies?


I need more Tylenol.



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