With new data showing that diagnosed cases of STIs are on the increase nationally, Liverpool residents are reminded that getting tested and treated has never been easier.
Liverpool’s integrated service ‘Axess Sexual Health’ launched last year to improve the sexual and reproductive health of residents by taking a holistic approach to care. They offer better and easier access to screening and treatment of STIs alongside all methods of contraception.
Alongside face-face appointments, Axess also provide a wide-ranging online STI screening and postal contraception offer for the city – which in some cases allows people to access what they need without attending a clinic.
Axess runs dedicated young people’s clinics and pharmacies across the city and also now offer chlamydia testing and treatment within the community.
Who is most at risk of STIs?
Data from The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) tells us that everyone who has sex with new or casual partners without using a condom is at risk of catching an STI.
As in previous years, the highest rates of STI diagnoses nationally were seen in GBMSM (Gay, bisexual and other men-who-have-sex-with-men) ; young people aged 15 to 24 years and people of Black ethnicity.
Young people aged 15 to 24 remain at the highest risk of the most common STIs – which could be due to more frequent changes of sexual partners.
Nationally diagnoses of gonorrhoea increased by 9.0%, chlamydia increased by 5.5% and diagnoses of infectious syphilis increased by 2.6%.
What’s happening in Liverpool
In 2021 there was 4,686 new STIs diagnosed in the city – an increase of around 700 on the previous year. Although still lower than pre-pandemic levels, the numbers of newly diagnosed STIs in Liverpool remains high.
Notably cases of gonorrhoea have risen quite considerably and chlamydia detection rates among 15–24-year-olds have increased by almost a third – but equally this means more people are getting tested and treated – helping prevent onward spread and reducing the risk of serious harm to others.
How to get support
Axess Sexual Heath
Residents can order testing online or book an appointment at: https://www.axess.clinic/
Other local services working with our population to help provide education and support around sexual health and wellbeing and HIV.
Liverpool PaSH (Passionate about Sexual Health)
This service launched in September 2022 and is a charity led partnership between BHA, George House Trust and LGBT Foundation to, which exists to challenge and address health inequalities and support people to improve their sexual health and wellbeing.
A service with a passion to deliver provision that will guarantee better sexual health and wellness for all and serve the needs of LGBTQ+ people across Merseyside.
For more information on Sexual Health Week 2022 visit: https://www.brook.org.uk/shw/
Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, Cllr Frazer Lake said:
“We did expect to see an increase on the 2020 data for STIs, as per the national picture – which is very likely due to increased testing during pandemic recovery – but I do want to remind people about our local testing offer and the support available.
If people are worried about STIs there are different ways to access the help they need quickly and confidentially. Ignoring STIs can lead to long term problems, such as infertility, but the sooner people know, the sooner they can start treatment.”
Director of Public Health for Liverpool, Professor Matthew Ashton said:
“A healthy sex life is important to many people. However, the health consequences of ignoring infections can be significant.
Liverpool has a really good sexual health service in place, including online testing, alongside walk-in and face to face options – with a clear website that provides some excellent information to help residents navigate all provision city-wide. Axess are also very effective at partner tracing, providing follow up treatment for positive partners to reduce onward spread of infection.”
Dr Emer Coffey, Public Health Consultant said:
“It’s sexual health week which is about #BreakingBarriers. Everyone deserves access to sexual health services and information.
Free confidential sexual health support, testing and contraception is available through our local sexual health service Axess, and everyone should feel welcome.”
Liverpool Advanced Public Health Practitioner (Sexual Health) and Chair of the English HIV and Sexual Health Commissioners’ Group (EHSHCG) James Woolgar said:
“The increase in chlamydia detection rates (above national targets) suggests we have a well targeted and easy to access local testing offer and we would encourage as many young people as possible to screen, get treated and think about their sexual health.
We want to destigmatise sexual and reproductive health care, build a sexual health culture that prioritises prevention and supports behaviour change. We also want to empower our residents to look after their own sexual health and wellbeing.”