The number of sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in Bedford Borough has increased, reflecting a trend seen across the country.
Figures from Public Health England show that 752 people in Bedford Borough were diagnosed with an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) in 2018, compared to 631 the previous year.
People can have an STI without knowing it, as they often show no obvious symptoms. Bedford Borough residents can obtain free sexual health advice, condoms and testing from iCaSH (integrated Contraception and Sexual Health) clinics in Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard.
The introduction of the iCaSH Express Test makes it easy for people without symptoms to take an STI test at home without the need to visit a clinic. iCaSH Express Test is a free kit, ordered online and posted in discreet packaging to a chosen address. The user simply completes the test using the instructions provided and returns the pack by freepost. Results are sent by text.
Bedford Borough Council has also worked with local pharmacies to increase the opportunities for people to test. Kits are now available from pharmacies, allowing anyone to test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
Cllr Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing at Bedford Borough Council said: “We have reviewed the figures published for Bedford Borough and there is no particular hotspot or trend. We encourage all of our residents to take care of their sexual health and practice safe sex.
“We do this, in partnership with our local provider iCaSH Bedfordshire, by promoting condom use and making routine screening and treatment of STIs as simple as possible.
“The continued increase in STIs across the country needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency; government cuts to public health funding are making it difficult for local authorities to adequately fund these critical services at a time when demand is growing.”
iCaSH Bedfordshire provides rapid HIV tests, STI screening, sexual health advice and support for more information visit www.icash.nhs.uk/where-to-go/icash-bedfordshire