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Are we too reliant on the media to get our STI message across?

Published : Friday June 1, 2012 | Posted in : Sexual Health

According to shock news articles published yesterday, gonorrhoea cases in young people are on the increase. Experts are finding reason to worry as gonorrhoea is becoming increasingly difficult to treat due to the bacteria’s resistance to traditional treatments antibiotics such as Azithromycin and Cefixime.

As far as most statistics show, the 2000s have seen mostly an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections, with marginal drops every few years. This is believed to be likely to increase within the next couple of years in the UK, as there isn’t currently many government initiatives aimed to actively campaign to stop the spread of these infections, due to spending cuts. Although the Department of Health is arguing that the increase in the number of people who are being diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase because more people are going for testing.

The Department of Health told the BBC that they felt that it was encouraging to see more people going for STI tests, but it was also worrying because it meant that there was still a large number of people who were taking risks with their health. Their statements makes sense, but surely proportionately the number of people going for tests would grow if there were more people getting infected? It doesn’t really conclusively indicate, to me, that there is a change in people’s attitudes towards testing, which the government body is trying to state. Although the fact that people are at least receiving a diagnoses and luckily getting treatment is encouraging.

It’s easy for people to ignore campaigns and therefore many people can argue that they don’t really help, but how can one ever really measure the success of these types of campaigns? What helps one person may be completely ignored by the other. I do see the need for campaigns and government investment in creating awareness to a point, but should we also not be looking at why there is a need for large-scale campaigns. Why do we feel the need for large scale, in-your-face media campaigns to help us realise that there is something that we need to be protecting ourselves from. Is it that these dangers don’t really exist until they are somehow confirmed when they are broadcasted on television in a terrifying advertisement after the 9pm watershed? If we can look for other ways to create awareness, STI numbers might not be at the mercy of future budget cuts. Or are there ways in which campaigns can be made cheaper while still gaining the exposure?

We may not have campaigns, but the Department of Health has, however admitted that they are empowering councils to help them deal better with sexually transmitted diseases in their areas. Will this be enough to help bring STI numbers down? Or have we become so reliant on large-scale campaigns that this lull in constant campaigning may lead to a significant increase in STIs over the next few years?

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