STI awareness must improve

As part of Sexual Health Week, Spectrum is driving awareness surrounding two lesser-known STIs, gonorrhoea and syphilis, especially because they can be hard to identify. Roughly 1 in 10 men and half of women infected with gonorrhoea won’t experience any obvious symptoms, whilst symptoms of syphilis can be very mild and change over time.

Belinda Loftus, Spectrum’s Head of Sexual Health Services said, “Spectrum is encouraging people to get tested for STIs more frequently. Even if someone thinks they are fine, there is no harm in getting tested. It can be hard to spot whether you have an STI because symptoms of the infection might develop after months or years and in some cases they are so mild that they go unnoticed.”

According to a report published by Public Health England, most diagnoses of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital warts in 2015 were in people aged 15 to 24 years. The report also states that diagnosis of syphilis have increased 20%, whereas there has been an 11% rise in gonorrhoea diagnosis during the last year. Both of these infections are bacterial and can be passed on through oral, vaginal or anal sex. Most infections can be prevented by using condoms and getting tested is the only way to confirm if you have contracted an STI.

In the early stages syphilis can cause a painless, but highly infectious, sore on an infected person’s genitals or around the mouth and is treated effectively by antibiotic injections or tablets. The length of treatment depends on the stage of infection.

Many people who have gonorrhoea have no symptoms, but some women experience health problems from gonorrhoea including reduced fertility or increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Gonorrhoea is usually treated with a short course of antibiotics.

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