Figures released by Public Health England today show the total number of new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England decreased by 4% in 2016, with 417,584 diagnoses.
The most commonly diagnosed STIs were chlamydia (202,546; 49%), genital warts (first episode; 62,721; 15%) and gonorrhoea (36,244; 9%).
Natika H Halil, Chief Executive of sexual health charity FPA, said:
“A decrease of 4% in rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) might look like a success, but unfortunately this may well be more the result of fewer tests being carried out, rather than fewer STIs being transmitted. Over 160,000 fewer chlamydia tests were carried out in 2016, compared to 2015 – a fall of 5%.
“Research published in March by The King’s Fund found that sexual health clinics are under strain as a result of cuts to services, a fractured commissioning system, and a lack of accountability. This reinforced the findings of the Breaking down the Barriers report, which we coordinated with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
“Our Unprotected Nation report warned that with just a 10% reduction in spending on contraception and sexual health services we could see an extra 72,299 sexually transmitted infection diagnoses by 2020, at a cost of £363 million. Investment into sexual health services must be prioritised.
“Learning about safer sex is also vital. We welcome the government’s decision to make Relationship and Sex Education statutory, but in order to be effective, funding must be allocated to ensure schools will be supported through teacher training and have access to high quality resources.”
FPA's Find a clinic tool can help you find your local sexual health services for free testing and treatment.
Understanding NHS Financial Pressures: how are they affecting patient care? (The King's Fund report, 2017)
Unprotected Nation 2015 considered the effects of a 10% cut in spending on contraception and sexual health services.
Breaking Down the Barriers looked at the accountability of sexual health services in England.