Cuts to sexual health services in parts of England are placing the care of patients at risk, a new report has warned according to a report published in the BMJ.
The research by the healthcare think tank the King’s Fund concluded that budget cuts of more than 20% to genitourinary medicine (GUM) services in some parts of the country had led to service closures and staffing cuts that have harmed patient care. Experts said that the findings were particularly worrying given that numbers of diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and gonorrhoea were rising.
Current pressures on services were also having a negative effect on staff morale and leading some staff to consider alternative careers, the report warned.
The researchers analysed data and interviewed frontline staff to examine the effect of funding pressure on patient care across four service areas: GUM, district nursing, elective hip replacements, and neonatal care.
Their findings indicated that sexual health and district nursing had been hardest hit which undermined the vision set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View to strengthen prevention and community based services.
The authors said that sexual health services such as GUM had become more prone to budgetary cuts since moving from the NHS to local government, because of local authorities’ legal obligation to balance their books.
We are delighted to receive support from STIRF and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity (QEHBC) to fund research in the area of sexual violence.
The project aims to increase our understanding of what matters to patients when they attend health care settings after experiencing sexual violence. This is on the background of the reporting of sexual offences in the UK being at the highest level since introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002, and also an awareness that it can be extremely difficult for patients to present to health care services, disclose what has happened and seek support.
This systematic review will collect data from a wide range of sources and will be reviewed in a robust and thorough manner, to look at patient experience and outcome after attending a range of health care settings. Identifying key themes and practice that are of greatest importance to patients will then be disseminated to a wide and relevant audience so that this can be put into practice.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis PrEP use in the sexually active females prevents HIV acquisition.
The International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, in July 2016, has renewed interest and momentum around HIV prevention. High and sustained HIV incidence rates—about 2 million people acquiring HIV every year for the past 5 years—highlight the need for new prevention technologies for populations at substantial risk of HIV.1 As many as 7000 new infections a week are occurring in the most vulnerable adolescent girls and young women in eastern and southern Africa.1 75% of young people in sub-Saharan Africa living with HIV are adolescent girls and young women age 15–24 years; AIDS is the leading cause of death for girls age 10–19 years in Africa.1 To date, prevention efforts have not had sufficient effect on risk of HIV in adolescent girls and young women.
Oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—the use of antiretroviral medications by HIV-negative people to avoid getting HIV—is a new biomedical intervention that has the potential to substantially reduce HIV acquisition in the people at greatest risk. Recent evidence suggests that PrEP was effective among several populations in reducing the risk of HIV infection by 70%.2 Less is known about the effectiveness of PrEP for young women,2 but the intervention could greatly increase the ability of adolescent girls and young women to protect themselves from HIV if they are able to access and use it effectively.
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Infection by Chlamydia trachomatis the commonest bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK and can result in long term complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women.
Once treatment is given to the patient and their partner(s) a test of cure is recommended. However when this should be done is unclear. A similar question hangs over another common sexually transmitted bacterial infection, gonorrhoea.
Dr Gabriel Schembri and his colleagues in Manchester in collaboration with researchers in London have completed a study, part co-funded by STIRF (in conjunction with BASHH) in an effort to answer these questions:
STIRF-015: Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea: persistence of a positive test result after successful treatment.
The study has now finished and was presented at the British Association for sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) meeting in Oxford (July 2016) and won the prize for the best oral presentation.
The investigators showed that the site of infection may have an effect on time to clearance of infection, with pharyngeal gonorrhoea infections and vaginal chlamydia infections taking longer to clear than other sites.
The results of this study will help guide clinicians to the timing for tests of cure.
Applications are invited from researchers in various fields related to sexual health, HIV and other sexually transmitted viruses.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Foundation (STIRF) was set up to pump prime research projects relating to the epidemiology, pathophysiology, management, and health care delivery of sexually transmitted infections and HIV in the East and West Midland, the North East and North West Regions.
The primary aim is to provide initial funding to allow promising projects from young researchers to obtain preliminary results as a prelude to acquire further funds from larger funding bodies.
We invite applications from researchers in the above regions on projects relating to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. All projects will be initially screened by the Scientific Committee of STIRF and those considered suitable will be sent for peer review by experts in the field.
The following fields of research will be considered in relation to STIs and HIV
- Epidemiology of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
- Research on HPV and other sexually transmissible malignancies
- Health care delivery including views of clients
- Issues relating to deprived or marginalised communities.
- Pathophysiology of diseases and syndromes
- Inter-relationship between diseases
- Treatment modalities
- Complications of treatment and co-morbidities
Applications should not exceed £50,000 in the first year. Depending on satisfactory reports a further £25,000 may be available for the second year. Joint funding with other grant giving bodies will be considered.
For further information and guidance on how to apply visit
How to apply for grants
Deadline for applications is 30th June 2016
Applications using the appropriate form downloaded from the STIRF web site should be sent by email to:
Dr Mohsen Shahmanesh,(Hon Secretary STIRF)
The UK, hosts a large number of refugees from Somalia.
Somalis are absent from much of the official statistics largely because ‘Somali’ is rarely recognised as a distinct ethnic category. Therefore, when decisions are being made in relation to addressing the needs of recently arrived refugees the needs of those who originate from Somalia may be neglected.
Somalis are known to have a high level of need but low uptake of health care services. This included sexual health.
Earlier STIRF funded a project which looked at issues and problems relating to access for sexual health services. The project is now completed and is presented in a meeting held on:
Date: April 27
Venue: Birmingham City University
Time: 16.00 – 18.00
Meeting on Sexual Health needs of Somali Community
A highly drug-resistant gonorrhoea outbreak in the north of England has been identified.
Fifteen cases of “super-gonorrhoea” have been detected by Public Health England since March, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV reported.
For an entertaining understanding of how microbes develop resistance see this short video
The term “Chemsex” is used in the United Kingdom to describe intentional sex under the influence of psychoactive drugs, mostly among men who have sex with men. The main drugs are mephedrone, γ-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), γ-butyrolactone (GBL), and crystallised methamphetamine. These drugs are often used in combination to facilitate sexual sessions lasting several hours or days with multiple sexual partners.
Mephedrone and crystal meth are physiological stimulants, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, as well as triggering euphoria and sexual arousal. GHB (and its precursor GBL) is a powerful psychological disinhibitor and also a mild anaesthetic.
Anecdotal reports and some small qualitative studies in the UK find that people engaging in chemsex report better sex, with these drugs reducing inhibitions and increasing pleasure.
Unfortunately use of chemsex can lead to mental health problems which can be permanent. Moreover Casual sex, particularly if under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections and even such bugs as shigella, an infection causing severe bacillary dysentery and diarrhoea usually associated with travel to regions such as Indian subcontinent, North and East Africa and South America.
See trailer for Chemsex, a film ChemsexOfficial directed by William Fairman and Max Gogarty (a Peccadillo Pictures) in the medical journal Lancet.