New STI is diagnosed every 70 seconds in England

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV is urging the government to reverse the deep funding cuts that have placed tremendous pressures on sexual health services.

Alongside the Terrance Higgins Trust, the charity has published a new State of The Nation Report on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in England. In it, the organisations draw attention to the fact that a new STI is diagnosed every 70 seconds in England, with cases of gonorrhoea up 249 per cent and syphilis up 165 per cent in the last decade.

The increase in diseases coincides with the government having slashed spending on sexual health services by a quarter since 2014.

The report highlights the urgent need for a positive and forward-looking national sexual health strategy to be put in place as soon as possible. This strategy must reduce fragmentation by bringing all parts of the system closer together and be accompanied by proper levels of funding, to reverse the deep cuts that have jeopardised access to care for those most in need.

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.

“As this report highlights, building a clear and positive new vision for the sector and its workforce is critical. To realise this ambition, the government must now provide the leadership to ensure that a new national strategy is developed and implemented as soon as is possible. This strategy needs to set out how all parts of the system should work together to commission and deliver sexual health services in a joined-up way, and must also be accompanied by a fair and robust funding settlement to support long-term planning. Failure to do so is not an option.”