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Why Experts Are Predicting a 'Surge' in STIs Following Relaxation of COVID-19 Restrictions

Edward Cooper
·2-min read

As of yesterday (April 12th), England felt a little bit more normal — you could go out to visit a non-essential shop, rep out a workout in the gym and get a long-overdue haircut at your local barber or salon.

For some, however, the most important part of the latest easing of restrictions was the ability to buy a crisp, cold and alcoholic drink from your local pub.

This part of the government's roadmap out of the COVID-19 'lockdown' saw hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants begin to serve customers outdoors but, according to sexual health experts, came with a risk that correlated with measures being lifted in previous lockdowns — a spike in sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) conducted several surveys that found sex clinics got busier when lockdown measures were eased, resulting in the pandemic placing pressure on sexual health services in the UK.

"If sex with a new partner is on your mind, however vaguely, then the time to get sorted is now. The UK entered the Covid-19 pandemic with gonorrhoea and syphilis at levels not seen for a generation or two," explained Dr John McSorley, president of BASHH.

"It would take some time to get back to that. It would happen slowly at first, then quickly. If we do all we can now, we could avoid it."

Photo credit: Nednapa Chumjumpa / EyeEm
Photo credit: Nednapa Chumjumpa / EyeEm

Previously, expert advice from sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust recommended that people wear a face mask and, crucially, avoid kissing during sex with anyone outside of their household.

Experts at the Terrence Higgins Trust also advised people to avoid direct face-to-face contact during sex, washing hands before and after, and limiting themselves to one partner.

For a period during lockdown, it was illegal in England to have sex with anyone who does not live in the same house as you. However, as the original lockdown began to ease, this rule was lifted.

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