Austerity can mean a significant reduction in the availability of public services, including services for sexual health. In particular, young people and those living in small towns could be negatively affected by a reduction in the number of sexual health services available to them.
As councils have less money to spend, the tendency has been to cut costs by centralising services. This has happened in many parts of the UK as councils have tried to save money; for example, there was previously a clinic in Ipswich that specifically catered to young people, giving them useful and confidential help and support. This clinic has now been amalgamated with another clinic that deals with a much broader range of sexual health and contraception issues; as a result, it is not so easy for some young people to get the help they need anonymously.
An article in the Guardian provides more information on how austerity policies are affecting the availability of health care in general.
In real terms, spending on sexual health has declined by more than £60m in the past four years. While the services have not been discontinued completely in some cases, the consolidation means that various sectors of society are not receiving the services they require, which can cause problems in the long term. Cuts in general health spending also have an effect on sexual health services.
If left untreated, conditions such as chlamydia can become extremely serious and lead to infertility; meanwhile, the infection rates for gonorrhoea and syphilis have both increased markedly. Syphilis rates have gone up by nearly 150 per cent since 2008, which respresents a level not seen since the second world war.
For those who have problems visiting a clinic, home testing could be the answer. If you want to find out more about home STI kits Greenwich, contact a service provider such as Greenwich sexual health for support, advice and information.
Sexual health should not be ignored. Even if public sexual health services are declining, people – especially young people – must take responsibility for their own sexual health and make sure they are tested regularly. If detected early, most STIs are relatively easy to treat; however, if ignored, they can cause problems.