The government says it will 'transform' sexual health services in England over the next three years in a £300 million programme. The extra funding will include a £50m advertising campaign to tackle the rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI's).
Responding to one of the first major announcements following the recent public health white paper Choosing Health, MHF's director Peter Baker said: 'Anything that helps to tackle this country's growing sexual health crisis is welcome. The worsening state of men's sexual health is a particular concern. So far national and local health policies and services have singularly failed to take men's specific needs into account. The Government's new campaign must recognise that men are more likely to respond to sexual health information and services that are specifically targeted at them and "male-friendly".
'The MHF would urge that genito-urinary clinics are made easier to access. There is evidence that the faster and more streamlined the service, the more likely it is that men will use it. Chlamydia is far more serious for woman than it is for men. But if we want to reduce the risk of infertility in women, we must find better ways of encouraging men to think about chlamydia and to take action. That is why it is vital that any national screening programme must include well-targeted and effective measures to encourage men to be screened.'
The government's announcements follows new figures, published from the Health Protection Agency showing what the Department of health calls a 'worrying rise in STI's', including an 8% rise in chlamydia infections over the last year.
Health secretary John Reid said: 'Prevention messages are not getting through. We need to act now on sexual health — and make it a priority. We will run an advertising campaign, the biggest on sexual health in twenty years, which tells people, especially young people, of the consequences of irresponsible sexual behaviour and of sexually transmitted infections. Chlamydia is a particular worry, as it has no symptoms in many cases, but can lead to infertility in later life if it is not diagnosed and treated."
Peter Baker also called on the government to improve the 'poor state' of sex education in many schools, especially for boys.
The Men's Health Forum is currently conducting research to find the best ways of encouraging men to make use of services for chlamydia and will be announcing its results early next year.
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