Our world isn't the same as it used to be a few decades ago. Our culture and our social behaviour are very different, and it reflects in all aspects of our lives. Sexuality is no exception. Until the 20th century, our sexual life was very restricted, our options cut short and our possibilities to find willing sexual partners were much lower than today. Of course, there was always a way to skip social prohibitions and obstacles and find people with whom to have sex, but there is no point of comparison between back then and the level of freedom and resources that we enjoy today.
Non-heterosexual sex and extramarital sex are now much more common than before, mostly because people are becoming more open about it. Today, we have resources that allow us to have more - and more varied - sexual experiences. However, this is a two-bladed sword, because this change also increases the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Recent studies show that gonorrhoea and syphilis are on the rise in the UK, especiall among men who have sex with other men (MSM). Even though the total amount of STI cases in the UK has slightly decreased from last year, gonorrhea and syphilis are soaring among MSM, and experts say that there are two main factors that are behind most of these cases of infection.
|The boom of dating apps or sex apps allows people from all sexual orientations to find many possible sex partners, so they can get laid more often and change partners more often. This increases the risk of getting an STI, especially if they have unprotected sex.|
|This is a term for "sex under the influence of drugs". Having sexual intercourse while on drugs is dangerous because of many reasons, but when it comes to STIs there is a higher risk of contagion due to a much higher incidence of unprotected sex, intercourse that lasts longer - meaning the skin gets more damaged -, more sexual partners in one night, and sexual assault.|
It is never a good time to make budget cuts on health services, but this time in particular, with such a rise in STIs, is simply terrible. Some clinics are already reducing screenings and experts say that less contraceptive methods and testing will be available to the population. This will more than likely lead to an even higher incidence of STIs, as well as abortions and unwanted pregnancies.
There are two reasons why cutting on health services is a bad idea. First, health is a human right, so everyone should have access to healthcare. And second, it doesn't work as an economic measure either. Less testing and less preventive measures will mean a rise in STIs and a higher demand of healthcare, including complcations which come from many sexually transmitted infections such as AIDS and gonorrhea. In the end, it will cost the system even more money.
From the point of view of population, they are left with less resources for a safer sex life, which is something that everyone should have. Even if you have protected sex, you are never one hundred per cent safe from infections or unwanted pregnancies. So the impact of these cuts on your personal life might be worse than you think; see here for more details on the cuts so you can get an idea.
STI screenings should be performed at least once a year, and more frequently if you often change sexual partners, have unprotected sex and/or are a man who has sex with other men. These tests are often performed at a genitourinary medicine clinic, or GUM. Many of these are open to the public today, and you can find a GUM clinic near you here..
GUMs will be affected by the budget cut and some services must become harder to get or even unavailable, However, inexpensive private STI test are available online, so you have an alternative in case that other door closes up for you. As a matter of fact, online STI tests do have some advantages. They will be available even after public budget cuts because they are private. Also, accessing their services is often easier and quicker than going to a GUM clinic.
When you use an online health service, you can load information on your symptoms or details of your sex life anonymously through secure forms and you will get feedback and advice on what you should do. Also, they will send you testing materials and instructions via mail, so you won't even have to leave your house to get tested. Results often come in a matter of hours, and if you test positive, you will get advice or even a medical prescription for antibiotics.
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