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Dr Alison Glenesk looks at how common infections present and how to raise awareness of prevention.
STIs are reaching epidemic proportions in Britain. The incidence of chlamydia presenting to GUM clinics increased by 300 per cent between 1995 and 2004, to more than 100,000 cases per year; this is not including those presenting to GPs.
The rate for gonorrhoea and HIV have respectively doubled and trebled in the same period. The reasons for these increases are wide-ranging, with earlier sexual experimentation, multiple partners, reliance on non-barrier methods of contraception and the present drink and drugs culture all contributing.
Practically, there is a lot that we, as GPs, can do to reduce the burden of STIs in our practice population.
Chlamydia is the most common STI in Britain, thought to be prevalent in 5-10 per cent of 20-24 year-olds. Of those with chlamydia, about 75 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men are asymptomatic, and may harbour the bacteria for an unknown period.