Covid pandemic was a boost to sexual health in Blackpool

Fewer people in Blackpool caught a sexually transmitted disease during the Covid pandemic as lockdown restrictions meant they could not meet new partners.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 3:49 pm

Figures just published show in 2020 there were 500 fewer cases of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) seen by medics in the resort.

A report by public health chiefs says Blackpool “has had consistently higher rates of STIs than the national average over a number of years” with more than 1,500 cases a year being the norm.

But in 2020 this fell to 944 “due to the impact of the pandemic” according to a council report into sexual health.

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Lockdown stopped people meeting new partners

The report, which was presented to the council’s adult social care and health scrutiny committee, says national data “suggests that fewer people met new sexual partners in 2020, and the number of sexual partners met reportedly reduced”.

It adds: “However, a substantial proportion of people still had ongoing risk for STIs/HIV, and two thirds of those who reported having a new sexual partner

during this period, also reported not using a condom.”

National date from Public Health England shows diagnoses of STIs dropped by around a third (32 per cent) in 2020 compared to 2019, although some of this was also due to less testing as lockdown disrupted sexual health services.

But it was also down to “changes in behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic which may have reduced STI transmission. Despite the fall

in diagnoses, STI diagnoses overall remain high.”

While Blackpool has had significantly higher rates of diagnosed STIs than the national average, sexual health services in the town are testing more people.

In 2019 8.6 per cent of tests were positive, compared to 7.1 per cent nationally, but the report said this showed “services are successfully targeting those most at risk.”

Of those diagnosed with a new STI in 2019 in Blackpool, 51.7 per cent were men and 48.3 per cent were women. Young people aged between 15 and 24 years accounted for 47.6 per cent of new STI diagnoses.

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