Concern over rise in sexually transmitted diseases in South Gloucestershire
SEXUALLY transmitted diseases are on the rise in South Gloucestershire, fuelling concerns about mounting resistance to antibiotics.
There has been a “large increase” in both syphilis and gonorrhoea, according to a report to the area's health and well-being board.
As more medication is prescribed to patients - and some do not finish their courses - the infections are not completely killed off and develop resistance to antibiotics.
Board members approved a sexual health strategy aimed at ensuring residents “enjoy safe, happy, healthy, equal and consenting relationships, free of fear of abuse”.
The report said: “Between 2012 and 2017 there were 32 cases of syphilis.
“In 2018 there was an outbreak and there were 32 cases in that year alone, demonstrating how easily the rate of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can increase despite previously low rates. “
It said the rate of gonorrhoea increased in 2018 to 40.9 per 100,000 people, higher than previous years, although below the national average.
The report said one-third of pregnancies in South Gloucestershire were unplanned while one-third of HIV diagnoses were “classified as late, resulting in delays to treatment, more likelihood of onward transmission and poorer health outcomes”.
“Rates of STIs are slowly increasing alongside antimicrobial resistance,” it said.
“It is vital that STIs are prevented as part of efforts to safeguard the effectiveness of antibiotics.
“This is an issue that will not respect local boundaries and the impact on residents of South Gloucestershire could be huge.”
The report said actions needed to tackle STIs included increasing partner notification and ensuring people at risk were followed up with testing, treatment and support, while more sexually active young people should be screened for chlamydia.
Prompt testing for HIV would reduce late diagnosis, and those at higher risk of contracting Aids should be offered testing routinely alongside new outreach services, it said.
A council officer told the remote meeting on September 21 that good sexual health was not just about avoiding STIs but required a “positive and respectful approach to sexuality and relationships”.
Members agreed to set up a partnership board to implement the strategy and come up with an action plan to put it into practice, with more details to be revealed in December.
The strategy’s five priority areas are to promote healthy relationships and sexual health, reduce inequalities in sexual health, reduce rates of STIs and blood borne viruses including late diagnosis of HIV, lower rates of unplanned conceptions in all ages and less sexual violence and sexual exploitation.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service