The Chairman of the British Medical Association, Mr James Johnson, has called on the Government to get its act together to tackle the soaring rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The Health Protection Agency (HPA) figures for 2003 released today [27 July] show that STI rates are still on the increase in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the figures, Mr James Johnson said:
"Another year, another set of figures and yet more predictions of an impending public health crisis. Well, I've got news for the Government, the crisis is here. Despite showing a slowing down of the rate of increase for some STIs, the 2003 figures still make very depressing reading indeed.
"With a 9% rise of chlamydia cases, thousands of women could become infertile as a result of this infection which often shows no symptoms.
"The BMA is particularly concerned that the increasing incidence of sexually transmitted infections is leaving genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics unable to cope. Many patients are not being seen within the 48-hour target but only after weeks of delay.
"It is a scandal that the service we offer patients today is worse than it was ninety years ago. During the First World War a free, rapid and totally confidential service was set up to treat sexually transmitted infections. Nearly a century later patients who turn up at GUM clinics can wait up to six weeks for an appointment. What use is that?"
Types of STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomona, pubic lice and scabies, genital herpes, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis B, syphilis and last but no means least HIV/AIDS.
STIs cause a wide range of illnesses and are a significant cause of long term and serious disability in the UK.