Campaigners are calling for urgent action on the ‘emerging crisis’ in STIs. Cuts in funding and the lack of an effective strategy for sexual health have contributed to critical rises in the incidence of STIs, including syphilis and gonorrhoea, according to the British HIV Association.
This follows publication of State of the Nation, a joint report sexual health in England by the Terence Higgins Trust (THT) and the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH).
While diagnoses of HIV are falling, other STIs are on the rise and people living with HIV are disproportionately affected by STIs in general. “Advances in HIV medicine mean that we now have effective treatment and prevention options but this should not be in isolation from other STIs,” said Dr Laura Waters, Chair of the British HIV Association, commenting on the report.
The report notes that:
- HIV, sexual health and STIs are still viewed in separate silos. This must change.
- HIV and STI prevention messages must be realigned to provided holistic sexual health information and support.
- The availability of PrEP and the message that virally suppressed people with HIV ‘Can’t pass it on’ do not remove the risk of other STIs.
- PrEP should be seen as part of a comprehensive sexual health promotion package.
Other highlights include:
- Data are lacking on trends in condom use among men who have sex with men (MSM) since 2008. There is a ‘surprising’ lack of up-to-date research on risk behaviours in this group and what is driving them.
- 75% of all new diagnoses of syphilis and nearly half (47%) of gonorrhoea diagnoses in 2018 were in MSM.