Saturday, August 6, 2022

STI patients have to wait a long time for treatment due to the pressure of monkeypox

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Patients may have to wait weeks for STI treatments as demand for sexual health clinics has been boosted by the monkeypox outbreak, health leaders have warned.

The increasing prevalence of the virus infection is forcing clinics to reduce their usual daily activities by 30 percent as they focus on identifying potential monkeypox cases and administering the vaccine to risk groups, according to the Terence Higgins Trust.

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) said the monkeypox outbreak is also limiting people’s access to PreP – a preventative drug that minimizes the chance of contracting HIV in risk groups – and to long-lasting birth control, such as an as Kitchen sink.

A total of 2,859 infections have been detected in the UK so far, most of which are concentrated in the capital where the greatest pressure on public health is reported.

“For example, in London in particular, we know that some clinics have lost about 30 per cent of their day-to-day activities as a result of helping people with monkeypox,” said Ceri Smith, head of policy at the Terrence Higgins Trust who has helped fuel the national response to the outbreak coordinate.

“We’re hearing from people who are struggling to get appointments for acute STIs, up to two weeks in some cases. People are looking for dates but there’s just nothing available because so much staff and resources have been shifted to respond to monkeypox.”

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines state that people with acute STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, should be offered an appointment within two business days.

Analysis by BASSH shows an additional £51m in funding is needed to support health services in diagnosing, treating and vaccinating monkeypox patients.

“Sexual health services across England have already faced unprecedented demand and monkeypox is only further straining the system,” the organization said.

“Without additional resources to support services to meet this high demand, there will be an increasingly severe impact on the availability and capacity of clinics to deliver essential STI and HIV services.”

BASSH said many services “reported a significant reduction in non-MPX activity and some a 90 percent reduction in PrEP and LARC [long-lasting reversible contraception] Access”.

The Terrence Higgins Trust warned that the long delays in accessing STI treatments would improve patient health.

Citing the example of gonorrhea, Ms Smith said it was important “to provide prompt treatment to control the infection and minimize drug resistance”.

For chlamydia, she said, it’s important that women get treatment quickly “because there are risks like pelvic inflammatory disease that can lead to infertility if left on for too long.”

“So if we’re talking about a couple of days, maybe that’s not that big of an issue, but you hear people worry it’s going to be weeks before they can get an appointment,” Ms Smith said.

As the outbreak spreads beyond London and takes root in other cities such as Manchester and Brighton, there are concerns that the pressure on public health reported in the capital will continue to mount across the country.

The number of cases in the Southeast nearly tripled between July 6 and August 1, rising from 91 to 233 — one of the sharpest regional jumps over the period. In the Northwest, cases have more than doubled from 71 to 144.

“We have heard from our colleagues, physicians who work in sexual health clinics, that there has been a tremendous shift in the day-to-day activities of sexual health services in some areas of the country,” Ms Smith said.

dr Sarah Pitt, a microbiologist at the University of Brighton, said Britain and other western countries were surprised by the monkeypox virus’ ability to spread through sexual contact.

“I think at least part of the reason the virus spreads so easily is because people weren’t prepared for it being so easily transmitted outside of Africa and through sexual contact,” she said.

Some have speculated that the virus has undergone significant mutations that have helped fuel its spread beyond Africa, where it is endemic to parts of the continent.

dr But Pitt said that although “some mutations have been detected between monkeypox strains from a few years ago and the current one,” recent analysis of the virus “does not indicate a drastic change” in its genetic make-up.

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