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.
Should children exposed to sexual abuse be offered human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination alongside screening for sexually transmitted infections? A recent article in the Lancet argues for a yes answer.
The WHO defines childhood sexual abuse as the involvement in sexual activity of a child under the age of 18 years who did not give informed consent or is not developmentally prepared.
The global prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is estimated to be 8–31% for girls and 3–17% for boys. The true figures are probably nearer the upper figure.
According to a review, parents were the perpetrators of about 45% of cases of childhood sexual abuse in the USA, and other relatives were responsible for a further 19%. Others included figures of authority such as priests and teachers. Survivors of such abuse are often hesitant to report such incidents because of shame and fear of retribution. Thus, the incidence and prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is almost certainly underestimated. Read more
A workshop on philosophical aspects of sexual health is being held at
Seminar Room 3.28, New Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester, United Kingdom
The workshop is run by Dr Phil Hutchinson and was part funded by a research grant from Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Foundation (STIRF). Project STIRF-026
Workshop 1: The Problem of Selection Bias in Biomedical & Public Health Research. Wednesday September 16
Workshop 2: Shame, Stigma and HIV. Thursday September 17
Venue: Seminar Room 3.28, New Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Mandatory registration: contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be obtained from Phil Hutchinson email@example.com
The incidence of high grade cervical lesions in young women in the United States has fallen, a new analysis has found. Susan Hariri and her colleagues reported in the journal Cancer that this may be caused by the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine but may also be due to changes in screening guidelines.
From 2008 to 2012, 9119 cases of high grade cervical lesions (CIN2+) were reported among 18 to 39 year olds as part of a sentinel system for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In all four catchment areas the researchers found a dramatic and consistent decrease in the incidence of high grade lesions among women aged 18 to 20 over the study period.
In California the incidence fell from 94 in 100 000 to 5 in 100 000
In Connecticut it fell from 450 to 57 in 100 000
In New York it fell from 299 to 43 in 100 000
In Oregon it fell from 202 to 37 in 100 000.
No change was seen among 30 to 39 year olds.
Vaccination against HPV has been available in the US since 2006. It is offered to girls aged 9 to 12 and as part of short term catch-up scheme targeting 13 to 26 year olds. The picture is unclear, however, as the recommended age for initiating cervical cancer screening was raised to 21 years during the same period, and screening intervals have been extended.
The study concluded that the declines in CIN2+ detection in young women were likely due to reduced screening but could also reflect the impact of vaccination.
A new project funded by STIRF (STIRF-027) has just been completed.
Background: In the United Kingdom there is an established and growing refugee population from Somalia. Despite this Somalis have remained absent from much of the official statistics largely because ‘Somali’ is rarely recognised as a distinct ethnic category. Little is known about the sexual health needs of this particular community but in terms of their broader health issues, Somalis are known to have a high level of need but low uptake of health care services (Carswell et al.2011).
Aims: Through the use of focus groups and individual interviews this study sought to explore the sexual health needs of the local Somali community by ascertaining from their perspective, what they know about sexual health services, the challenges that may prevent them taking up these services and how services could be adapted to best meet their needs.
Results: The study showed little knowledge of services, especially about sexual health, how to accessing services, issues relating to shame, stigma and taboo, the influence of gender, religious and cultural norms, the perceptions of young people, the language barrier lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity demonstrated by healthcare professionals.
- Urgent attention be given to raising awareness, amongst the Somali community, about local sexual health services and how they can be accessed.
- Information about sexual health services be made available in a format that is accessible to the Somali refugee community, for example, via a CD, DVD or USB stick.
- That public health professionals and health care practitioners make clear the concept of preventative screening, making explicit the value of screening and early diagnosis for infectious diseases including TB and HIV/AIDS.
- Health practitioners and public health professionals exercise extreme sensitivity when discussing issues related to sexual health and well-being. Every effort must be made to gain the trust of the individual so that they are able to discuss their fears or concerns.
- Public health professionals and health care practitioners receive appropriate training and education so that they are equipped with the necessary cultural understanding and skills when working with the Somali community.
- That a proactive approach be taken to helping Somali refugees to attend a programme of induction that includes language classes.
- That a register of trained interpreters, who understand medical terminology and who are trained to work with those who may have experienced rape and torture should be available for public health professionals and health practitioners. Telephone interpretation should also be made available during consultations.
The results of the study have been presented in international meetings and published in reputable international journals.
In a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal (available only on subscription), Margaret Stanley and coauthors urged the UK government to introduce a gender neutral vaccination programme against HPV in schools for boys and girls aged 12-13 to reduce not only ano-genital warts but HPV-related cancers. These include cervical cancer in women, anal cancers in men who have sex with men and oropharyngeal cancers.
The authors point out that oropharyngeal cancers have the fastest rising incidence (15% per year) and anal cancer rates in the UK have risen by nearly 300% in the last 40 years..
On May 8 2014 the UK Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of David Golding against a 14 month prison sentence for transmitting herpes to his partner.
An Editorial in the BMJ by Emily Clarke an colleagues highlights the numerous and complicated issues that arise from this verdict including:
what constitutes grievous bodily harm,
how you determine that sexual transmission has occurred,
how serious is herpes infection, and
what this judgement means both for health care workers who advise and inform patients on the risks of transmission and on the infected individual and their duty of informing all partners of potential risk of transmitting an infection even during asymptomatic shedding.
The Editorial correctly highlights the dangers of criminalizing sexually transmitted infections and the various problems that arise from this judgement which was based on a law passed 170 years ago addressing totally unrelated issues and at a time when STI’s were not understood as they are today.