Why sexual health clinics are struggling to cope with the rise in STIs

Health experts are warning that sexual health clinics across the UK are experiencing an increase in demand that their limited resources cannot cope with effectively.

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Modern Dating Culture and STIs

According to Public Health Wales, cases of syphilis across Wales were up more than 50% between 2016 and 2017. Additionally, cases of gonorrhoea rose by 21% during the same period.

The president of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, Dr Olwen Williams, cites dating apps as a core reason for this rise in sexually transmitted infections and has called for additional investment in vital sexual health resources.

The rise in STIs is a genuine one, and many health professionals are encountering diseases that they haven’t seen in their local area before. Dating apps appear to have contributed to a culture of sexual networking wherein casual hook-ups and sexual activities have significantly increased. The anonymous nature of certain hook-up apps makes notifying past sexual partners impossible, which professionals believe is also contributing to the increased spread of STIs.

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Lack of Investment in Sexual Health Services

Welsh sexual health clinics saw patient numbers rise to 176,000 from 86,000 between 2011 and 2016. Despite additional demand for services, there has yet to be any meaningful sexual health service investment to deliver the world-class advice and treatments that patients deserve. If significant investment is not announced soon, many sexual health professionals are concerned that services will struggle to operate effectively.

Accessing efficient treatment is crucial as untreated STIs can lead to more complex health conditions. Untreated syphilis can spread to the brain and cause long-term problems, and untreated gonorrhoea can result in pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

Citing the success of online STI testing kits in England and Scotland, Dr Williams and Public Health Wales are calling for the introduction of this service across Wales. If you need to obtain STI testing London is home to a range of comprehensive services, including checkurself.org.uk/plus/. Ordering a kit online and returning it for testing via the post is convenient and removes many of the added stresses and barriers that prevent patients from accessing treatment in clinics.

The Welsh Government has recognised the value in investing in new methods of STI testing and has approved funding packages for a range of pilots, including an online STI testing service.

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