Double the number of sex diseases and 4 times HIV rate in Islington

Cllr Martin Klute: 'It's in the nature of the area'

Cllr Martin Klute: 'It's in the nature of the area' - Credit: Archant

Home HIV testing kits among measures suggested to help borough’s shocking sexual health problems

Double the normal rate of sexual diseases, four times the average HIV cases and significant increases in gonorrhoea and syphilis are all part of Islington’s poor sexual health, laid bare in a new report this week.

The document, went before an Islington Council Health and scrutiny Committee last Tuesday, reveals a whopping £8.6million goes on treating sexual health – a third of the borough’s public health budget.

A total of 1,949 per 100,000 people in Islington had Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in 2013 - the fifth highest in London.

The borough has also seen significant increases in STIs, particularly gonorrhoea, as well as syphilis and chlamydia.

For the five major STIs, not including HIV, Islington is in the top 10 per cent of local authorities nationally.

HIV is diagnosed at 8.5 per 1,000 residents aged 15 - 59, four times the national average of 2.1

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Men who have sex with other men account for just under half of the STIs and 70 percent of HIV cases.

The borough has put itself forward for new initiatives to help diagnoses - online home HIV testing kits and giving anti-HIV drugs to those who don’t yet have the virus.

Altogether, 39,000 people visited a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic in 2013, the fifth highest in London.

The abortion rate, at almost 21 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, is higher than the national average; as is the third of abortions in 16 to 24-year-olds that are repeat abortions.

The report says: “Islington has among the highest levels of sexual health needs in the country.

“Needs relating to the prevention and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV are particularly high, with rates of the former more than double the national average and the latter four times.

“Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are particularly affected, as well as some BME groups.”

The document says Islington’s “very high levels of sexual health needs and morbidity” are down to deprivation; a young, ethnically diverse and single population, including a significant LGBT population, and simply being an inner London borough.

The paper was brought before the committee so the chairman, Cllr Martin Klute, could have a look at ways of reducing the sexual health strain on the town hall’s already over-stretched coffers.

He said: “We’re trying to get better control of expenditure. It’s a about third of our entire public health budget, which is huge – it’s a shocking number.

“At the moment its hard to control because it’s an on-demand service – people turn up and you have to provide what they need.

”The high numbers of infection are in the nature of the area.

“We have a younger population so we have more activity of that sort.”