frequently asked questions
WHERE YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS
Visit www.playingsafely.co.uk where you will find professional advice about STIs, what they are, their symptoms, how to avoid them and how to get treatment. If you would like to talk to someone about sexual health, you can call the Sexual Health & HIV helpline on 0800 567 123. The helpline is free, open 24 hours a day, and your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.
What is the 'sex lottery' campaign?
It is a sexual health education campaign for adults aged 18 to 30 in England. It aims to tackle the increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections among this age group. The campaign is part of the Department of Health's National Sexual Health and HIV strategy, which is a long-term plan to improve and modernise sexual health services. The campaign design was informed by research into what works with this target audience. It combines humour with clear factual information to raise awareness of STIs, help de-stigmatise them and encourage the use of condoms. For those under the age of 18, we already have in place a successful media campaign targeting teenagers as part of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which includes STIs.
Where is my nearest clinic?
See the Association of Genito Urinary Medicine (AGUM) Directory of GU Medicine Clinics for the UK & Republic of Ireland http://www.agum.org.uk.
Where can I find statistics on STIs?
The Health Protection Agency
Which age groups are most at risk of STIs?
All age groups are at risk but the highest number of new diagnoses are seen in the age groups 16-34. Men aged 20-34 at most at risk and for women, it's age 16-24.
Why are STIs increasing?
The reasons are complex and there isn't a simple answer. Findings from the second National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles issued last year (NATSAL 2000) showed that: Lifetime number of heterosexual partners is increasing (12.7 for men, 6.5 for women up from 8.6 and 3.7 in 1990) Concurrent partnerships in last year are increasing (14.6% of men, 9.0% of women up from 11.4% and 5.4% in 1990) Increased consistent condom use was reported, particularly for men with 2 or more partners in the last year but the benefits of greater condom use were offset by increases in the number of reported partners. Other reasons may include the perceived lack of any national campaigns leading to complacency, better diagnosis of STIs by health professionals.
Is there a target/goal to reduce the incidence of gonorrhoea?
The Sexual Health Strategy includes a goal to reduce by 25% the number of newly acquired gonorrhoea (and newly acquired HIV) infections by the end of 2007. The recently published performance indicators for Primary Care Trusts include an indicator to monitor the change in gonorrhoea diagnoses.
What is the Government doing to reduce
waiting times for GU services?
The Government have invested £5m this year to improve capacity and reduce waiting times in GUM services. Allocations have been made to clinics based on their workload. They do recognise that reducing GUM waiting times won't happen overnight. Reducing transmission of STI's is a complex issue that will involve people changing their behaviour. We are therefore adopting a multifaceted approach to tackling rising levels of STIs and improving access to GU services. Their new mass-media safer sex campaign should improve awareness of STIs and how to avoid them. We have also started rolling out the chlamydia screening programme. With the £5million investment they have in GU, which they fully expect to continue this year and beyond, they hope to start seeing shorter waiting times for urgent appointments and improved access to services.
What action has the Government taken to introduce a national Chlamydia Screening Programme?
The first stage of the implementation of the screening programme, outlined in the National Strategy and Action Plan is already underway, £1.5 million has been invested this year. This money will pump prime 10 sites to allow them to begin a screening programme. The10 sites have been selected to give an even spread geographically, to provide an urban/rural balance and reach minority ethnic groups. These sites will build upon the work carried out during the pilot and further inform the gradual rollout of a nationwide programme.
When will the programme be extended to other
sites and how will these be chosen?
The pace of the role out of the programme across the country will depend on the availability of resources, trained staff and equipment, and cannot be precisely predicted at this stage. However it is anticipated that a call for bids from interested groups will be made during the next financial year and that a further 10 sites will be selected.
What were the key findings from the Chlamydia screening pilot?
Two Chlamydia screening pilots were carried out in Portsmouth and the Wirral between September 1999 and August 2000. The pilots showed that opportunistic screening is acceptable to both the public and professionals. Overall prevalence of infection in 16-24 year old screened females in Portsmouth was 9.8% and on the Wirral was 11.2%. Prevalence of infection in the target age group was high at all clinical settings, resulting in over 2,000 positive cases being detected. Approximately, 95% of all positive cases were known to have attended for antibiotic therapy. Almost 20,000 people were tested for infection during the one-year study indicating that opportunistic screening for genital chlamydial infection can achieve significant levels of population coverage; 50% of the eligible female population in the target age range (16-24 years) in Portsmouth were tested for infection and 38% on the Wirral. Urine testing for infection was found to be highly acceptable to the target population and health professionals offering screening.