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National AIDS Trust responds to increased STI rates amongst gay and bisexual men

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Public Health England has today published statistics on the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in England.  

The figures show that while there has been a very small decrease in overall STI rates between 2014 and 2015, there has been a large increase in rates amongst gay and bisexual men of two serious infections: gonorrhea and syphilis.

Yusef Azad, NAT’s Director of Strategy, says:

“We are failing to meet the sexual health needs of gay and bisexual men.  The 21% increase in gonorrhoea cases and 19% increase in syphilis cases are not out of the blue.  There were serious increases in both infections reported last year, and the year before that.

But instead of investing properly in prevention and sexual health services, the Government made an in-year cut to the public health budget of £200 million last year, and further cuts for the years ahead. 

And instead of educating young gay and bisexual men about how to look after their sexual health, the Government has rejected the calls of experts to provide statutory sex and relationships education to all young people.

Gay and bisexual men being diagnosed with STIs are precisely the group who need to have access to PrEP, which the Government has also failed to provide.  Starting PrEP wouldn’t just be taking a pill.  Offering this game-changing prevention technology to the most at-risk gay men would also mean they are treated early for STIs and supported in safer sex, so reducing STI transmission rates.”

Notes to the editor:

1.Public Health England publishes annual data tables on STI diagnoses and sexual health services provided in England by demographic characteristics and geographical region.  On 5 July 2016 they published statistics relating to 2015.   https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/sexually-transmitted-infections...

2.In February 2016, the Government announced it would not  be following the recommendation of the Education Select Committee by making PSHE and SRE compulsory in all schools http://www.nat.org.uk/Media-and-Blog/Statements/Statement_Government_rej...

3. On 31 May 2016, NHS England confirmed its decision to remove PrEP from the specialised commissioning process