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Funding cuts and government inaction has led to soaring STI rates in Britain, new study finds

Published on 05/02/20 at 09:58am

The UK faces a new Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) diagnoses every 70 seconds, according to a new report that outlines how government inaction and cuts has led to a rise in STIs.

The State of the Nation report was produced as a collaboration between the Terrence Higgins Trust and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV. It had found that there were 447,694 cases of STIs diagnosed in England in 2018, with Gonorrhoea up 249% and chlamydia up 6%. Syphilis is up 165% which is the highest rate since the Second World War.

The report blames the government for increasing cuts to sexual health services and criticises their lack of transparency on their plan for combating STIs. There has not been a framework published by the government for several years.

Dr John McSorley, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: ‘Years of Government funding cuts and disruption caused by fragmented commissioning structures have placed incredible pressures on sexual health services in this country. At a time when we are seeing significantly increased demand from the public and record levels of sexual infection, including the spread of difficult to treat antibiotic-resistant strains of disease, the decision to disinvest in this vital public health area is nonsensical.

Young people account for 48% of new STI diagnoses, with gay people and men accounting for 75% of all syphilis diagnoses. The highest overall rates of STIs were reported in Black Caribbean and Black non-Caribbean/non-African populations.

Jonathan McShane, Chair of Terrence Higgins Trust, called on the government to take action and said: ‘We urgently need comprehensive action that can help to halt the rising tide of STIs. There needs to be a long-term approach to improving sexual health. An ambitious strategy, matched with proper funding, is the only way we can support people to have healthy and fulfilling sex lives. The Government must roll up its sleeves and get to work because the current state of the nation is simply not good enough.’

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