Urgent need for new campaigns to combat soaring rates of sexually transmitted infections

July 18, 2001

Sexual health awareness campaigns really do work, and new ones are urgently needed to combat soaring rates of sexually transmitted infection (STI), reveals a study in Sexually Transmitted Infections.

The research, principally from the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre of the Public Health Laboratory Service, shows that HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns in the mid and late 1980s cut STI rates. They also probably helped prevent the kinds of levels of HIV infection of most of the rest of Europe, which are up to six times higher than those in the UK. But since the 1980s, HIV infection has remained high, while in the past five years bacterial infections, such as gonorrhoea and syphilis, have soared.

The researchers looked trends in rates of HIV transmission among gay men, and new cases of syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital warts, and genital herpes diagnosed at genitourinary medicine clinics in England between 1971 and 1999. Rates were then plotted against the impact of AIDS awareness activities between 1983 and 1984, which were organised by and targeted primarily at gay men, and official campaigns targeted at the general population between 1986 and 1987.

Overall attendances at the clinics tripled between 1971 and 1999. The gay male awareness campaigns of 1983-4 coincided with substantial declines in HIV transmission rates in this group from 6,000 to 1400 a year. Diagnoses of syphilis among men also fell during this period

The 1986-7 official campaigns increased the numbers of "worried well" attending clinics but dramatically cut new attendances requiring treatment, probably because of the adoption of "safer" sex practises. Rates of gonorrhoea and genital herpes also fell significantly, and previous rises in rates of genital warts were halted. But since 1995 rates of gonorrhoea and genital warts have risen sharply.

The authors conclude that the patterns seen over time reflect the impact of sexual health awareness campaigns, which produced behavioural changes and heightened awareness of risky sexual practices. But they conclude: "The evidence of recent, ongoing HIV transmission among [gay men], and increasing STI diagnoses in the general population is especially disquieting," adding that the forthcoming Sexual Health Strategy for England will need "comprehensive and vigorous" measures will be needed to tackle these trends.
-end-
Contact:
Dr Angus Nicoll, Director, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Public Health Laboratory Service, London.
Tel: 0208 358 3004 (Simon Gregor in the press office) Email: Sgregor@phls.org.uk

BMJ Specialty Journals

Related HIV Articles from Brightsurf:

BEAT-HIV Delaney collaboratory issues recommendations measuring persistent HIV reservoirs
Spearheaded by Wistar scientists, top worldwide HIV researchers from the BEAT-HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) compiled the first comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best measure the size of persistent HIV reservoirs during cure-directed clinical studies.

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).

Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.

The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.

NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.

Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.

Read More: HIV News and HIV Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.