Surprise: Government Sexual Health Cuts Have Sexual Health Consequences

As if you needed reminding.
Nana Baah
London, GB
October 17, 2017, 2:23pm
Photo: Corode, via Wikimedia Commons

With an evolved, antibiotic-resistant type of gonorrhoea on the rise and more people saying "no" to condoms, it's becoming increasingly important to get tested regularly.

The UK government wanted to modernise how we go about that, supposedly making it easier for us to take care of our sexual health. Not with the vending machines used in Chinese universities, from which students can choose between a Coke and an HIV test, but with a new online service that allows you to get an STI kit delivered to your door, rather than having a face-to-face chat and pretending to know how many sexual partners you've had this year. However, the service, which was aimed at people not presenting any symptoms and slated to be up and running by May of this year, is now expected to be ready by January of 2018, at the earliest.


Problem is, as part of this plan six major sexual health clinics across London have been closed in recent months, and people are now being turned away due to the pressures remaining clinics are facing. There are understandable fears that this, paired with a steady decline in the use of condoms, will inevitably lead to infections being passed on in an endless cycle.

Among the sexual health clinics closed are those at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, in Southwark and Lambeth, which have the highest rates of newly diagnosed cases of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in England.

These closures, and the move to an online service, are down to cuts of £64 million to sexual health services over the past four years – funding that is expected to be cut by another £30 million next year.

Away from GUM clinics, cuts are taking their toll on other public health services. Drug treatment centres are also losing funding, at a time when drug-related deaths and hospital admissions are at their highest rate on record.

In fact, ten of the 30 councils that have cut drug treatment spending the most over the past four years also have some of the highest numbers of drug deaths, reports the Guardian.

Blackpool has had the most drug-related deaths across England, and funding will be halved in 2018. In Bristol, where cuts are predicted to be harshest, there were 93 deaths between 2014 and 2016, when funding was at £12.9 million, but spending will be reduced to £4.5 million by 2018 and the number of deaths is expected to rise.