British Lawmakers Warn of Sexual Health Crisis
June 11, 2003
In England, soaring rates of STDs, overburdened clinics and widespread ignorance indicate an impending sexual health crisis, a group of lawmakers warned Wednesday. A report by the parliamentary Health Select Committee found syphilis infection rates in England increased by 500 percent in the last six years, and gonorrhea rates have doubled. The report also said one in 10 sexually active young women is infected with chlamydia.Adapted from:
Figures for 2002 are expected to show a 26 percent increase in HIV infection rates in the United Kingdom since 2001 -- the highest increase since the epidemic began. In addition, the number of heterosexually transmitted HIV infections has been greater than the number acquired through sex between men since 1999. Ignorance about the dangers of unprotected sex is particularly acute among young people, especially men, said the report, published as part of the government's National Sexual Health and HIV Strategy for England.
According to the committee's report, long-term underfunding of state-run sexual health clinics has left them unable to meet the demand, forcing them to turn away hundreds of people every week. "We heard that sexual health services are not meeting the needs of young people and they are being failed by an education system which persistently delivers too little, too late," said the committee.
The committee said it was "appalled" by the looming sexual health crisis, and urged Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to set a goal of getting potentially infected patients access to sexual health services within a 48-hour timeframe. It also recommended an immediate introduction of a national chlamydia screening program and called for education on sex and relationships to become a compulsory part of the national curriculum in high schools.