New figures release by Public Health England (PHE) have shown that, as a result of NHS funding cuts, there has been a recent increase in the number of Syphilis cases. In fact, the number of new diagnoses last year went up by levels the health service hasn’t seen since the 1940’s. This has prompted new warnings that changes urgently need to be made.
In addition, the number of new Gonorrhoea cases has also increased by 22% in the last year. The number of cases has been stable for decades; however, there’s been a decrease in testing across most STI’s in the UK. The number of genital warts cases has fallen, which has been driven by the HPV vaccination programme. However, the number of people being tested for chlamydia fell by 8% in the last year.
Charities said this is “not good news” and have urged for greater funding for testing facilities and campaigns. “This government is presiding over a national crisis in sexual health, caused in large part by the decision to implement year-on-year cuts to the public health grant which funds sexual health services,” said National Aids Trust chief executive Deborah Gold.
Head of policy and engagement Debbie Laycock warned: “The significant rise in both syphilis and gonorrhoea shows why further cuts are completely unacceptable and would be extremely damaging, particularly given the emergence of a new extensively drug-resistant strain of gonorrhoea. There’s no clear plan for tackling consistently high rates of STIs.”
Dr Gwenda Hughes, consultant scientist and head of the STI section at PHE, added: “Sexually transmitted infections pose serious consequences to health – both your own and that of your current and future sexual partners. The impact of STIs can be considerable, with some causing infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and harm to unborn babies. Consistent and correct condom use with new and casual partners is the best defence against STIs, and if you are at risk, regular checkups are essential to enable early diagnosis and treatment.”