Covid has dominated our worries for the past 18 months, leaving many other health concerns ignored or forgotten. And, yes, that includes sexually transmitted diseases/
When social restrictions did eventually ease and more of us starting dating, the thought of getting an STI might not have crossed our minds.
Lockdown made it more difficult to go to a sexual health clinic for a check-up, too – as Dr Mark Lawton, sexual health consultant and spokesperson for the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, previously told HuffPost, doctors saw a reduction in the number of people getting tested during lockdown.
The pandemic is still ongoing, of course, and while should still be concerned about Covid, we should also make sure we’re all sexually healthy. That’s the message coming loud and clear from sexual health experts, including the medical team behind online male health supplier, From Mars.
The site has launched an interactive STI calculator that shows the prevalence of STIs in your area and, as Navin Khosla, its resident superintendent pharmacist explains, how at risk you are from catching one. The calculator is based on STI Data from Public Health England. Select your region and you will be given the number of STIs – and most common types – where you live.
Notably, the top 16 spots in the table are all occupied by London boroughs, with Lambeth showing the highest number of new STI cases at 3,915 per 100,000 people – of those, 1,611 are Chlamydia.
Outside London, Brighton & Hove residents are most at risk of catching an STI, with figures standing at around 1,566 per 100,000 people, and Manchester is the STI capital of the North West, with around 1,437 cases per 100,000 people and chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital warts the most prevalent infections.
It’s normal for STIs to fluctuate in prevalence from area to area, the From Mars team say. “They rely on person-to-person sexual contact in order to infect someone new, so infection rates tend to be pretty low compared to other infectious viruses such as the flu,” the site explains.
“However, if you’re not careful and you let passion cloud your better judgement, you could well end up with an unpleasant surprise.”
“It’s crucial we all have safe sex and use a form of protection which is best suited to our bodies,” advises Khosla – for men, that’s likely to be a condom, regardless of whether a female partner is on the contraceptive pill or not. “There are many forms of contraception for women and your GP is on hand to talk you through your best options, as well to help put your mind at ease,” he adds.
“Unfortunately there has always been stigma around STIs and this can be a barrier to people accessing care,” Dr Lawton told HuffPost. “My advice would be to reassure people that services are still operating... and to contact their local service for advice. Condoms will of course be people’s best defence against STIs and will reduce the need to attend a clinic.”
Top 10 STI Hotspots In London
Lambeth, London – 3,915* new STI cases per 100,000 people
Hackney, London – 3,306
Southwark, London – 3,138
City of London, London – 2,850
Tower Hamlets, London – 2,658
Hammersmith, London – 2,502
Islington, London – 2,484
Wandsworth, London – 2,377
Westminister, London – 2,238
Haringey, London – 2,151
Top 10 STI Hotspots Outside London
Brighton, South East – 1,566* new STI cases per 100,000 people
Manchester, North West – 1,437
Liverpool, North West – 1,355
Nottingham, East Midlands – 1,268
Leeds, Yorkshire – 1,233
Salford, North West – 1,229
Southampton, South East – 1,222
Portsmouth, South East – 1,195
Reading, South East – 1,135
Bristol, South West – 1,108
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.