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An annual report released from the Dublin Well Woman Centres shows that the number of people being screened for sexually transmitted infections has dropped by almost 50%.
Well Woman is the leading provider of health services for women in Ireland’s capital, Dublin, meaning the findings in its annual report are significant. According to the report, the number of people who took a full STI test at a Well Woman Centre was 1,600 in 2010. This is a significant decline from the figure in 2007, which was 3,000, and coincided with a general fall in numbers of people using the services that the Well Woman Centres offer for the first time.
The Chief Executive of the Dublin Well Woman Centre, Alison Begas, speculated that “people are now postponing sexual health checks and other associated visits because they are increasingly feeling the strain of the recession.” She also suggested that services relating to sexual health, such as STI screening tests, may be being viewed as a “luxury or secondary outlay” which does not feature as a high priority on a budget. Ms. Begas was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph. Full STI tests at the Well Woman Centres cost 120 euro.
The report also revealed that rates of chlamydia infections are rising, with 15% of people tested for the STI testing positive. The decline in numbers of people seeking sexual health checks is worrying because it could conceivably lead to an increase in the number of sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, which can cause a number of health problems if they are not treated.