Hot Topics Obstetrics and Gynaecology

STI in the UK

In a recent Eastenders episode, one of the characters, Whitney finds out she has chlamydia which was contracted from as a result of her boyfriend’s infidelity (more on Chlamydia). This can be very dangerous as most people who contract chlamydia do not display any symptoms and if left untreated can cause long term health problems such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease or inflammation of the testicles.

Chlamydia trachomatis is actually the most common STIs in the UK with around 200,000 reported out of the 435,000 diagnosed STI cases in 2015. Seven of the ten diagnosed were under 25 years old and so the NHS recommends under 25s to be tested annually with a simple urine or swab test. According to the World Health Organisation, each year there are 131 million new cases of chlamydia in the world, with one in four new infections being an STI.

In the UK, the second most common STI are genital warts caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Genital herpes is another common infection which is caused by the same virus that causes cold sores, the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are many more infections such as gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV, together with the previously mention can be prevented with careful forethought.

Prevention measures

The most basic and simple measure of preventing yourself from getting most STIs is to use a condom during intercourse, be aware though that some can be contracted by close contact or in the case of HIV, transmits through bodily fluids. Ideally, you and your partner should make sure you are STI free before engaging in sexual activities. Be sure to get checked for sexually transmitted diseases regularly, especially when changing your partner. Read about the symptoms and treatments of various STIs here.


Recent advances

Bacterial STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are curable with the use of antibiotics, but diseases such as herpes and HIV are currently incurable, with only disease modulation treatment in existence. Even though antibiotics can be used to clear STIs such as chlamydia, prevention and eradication is still an important tool especially with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A study based on mice was recently published in Science which has reported a promising nasal-spray vaccine; however, there have been many potential vaccine leads over the years with none being successful. Home test kits for HIV have also recently come onto the market in the UK. Apparently one in five people in the UK are living unknowingly with HIV, a disease that benefits early detection and treatment (see more information here). If you or a friend suspects themselves to have a chance of having HIV, these home-testing kits costing around £30 are now available to buy from pharmacies. You might be able to obtain a free one depending on where you live (check here) and even Prince Harry has been seen using one to test himself (shown in the Telegraph).  

For emergency sexual health advice and treatment please go to one of the walk-in clinics that are free for everyone or visit a sexual health doctor on Doctify

If you are experiencing fertility issues, speak to a GP or a fertility doctor on Doctify