Sexual healthBMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7406.62 (Published 10 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:62
- Michael Adler, professor of genitourinary medicine
- Royal Free and University College Medical School, London WC1E 6AU
Report finds sexual health service to be a shambles
The House of Commons Health Select Committee has published its inquiry on sexual health and highlighted a major public health problem and increasing crises.1 One hundred and sixty three written submissions were received, 67 witnesses gave evidence during the course of 10 sessions, and the committee visited north east England, south west England, Sweden, and Holland. The tone and recommendations of the report left no doubt about how concerned the members of parliament were by what they had heard and seen for themselves.
The report covered the trends and services for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; contraception and unwanted pregnancy; sexual behaviour; and sex education. The picture is of a continuing decline in the nation's sexual health, with services unable to cope and an increasingly demoralised but willing workforce. The committee heard that all sexually transmitted infections had increased in England over the past six years, particularly new cases of gonorrhoea (86%), chlamydia (108%), and syphilis (500%). They also heard that two chlamydia pilot studies conducted in the Wirral and Portsmouth showed a prevalence of approximately 10% in women under the age of 25. Not surprisingly, the increases in infections have resulted in a doubling in attendances at departments of genitourinary medicine within England in the past 10 years, which have reached 1.1 million cases a year.
The annual total of new HIV diagnoses increases each year, and in conjunction with the success of anti-retroviral therapy the pool of infected people is increasing, with implications for …