In 2021, more people visited a Sexual Health Centre (SHC) to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than in 2020. This figure is still lower than in 2019, the year before the coronavirus outbreak. These are the findings of the sexual health thermometer.
In 2021, there were a total of 138,436 STI consultations at the SHCs. This is 30% more than in 2020, but still 8% lower than in 2019.
Fewer healthcare services were available at the SHCs in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, more people were once again able to access care at an SHC than in 2020, although this figure was still below the pre-pandemic level. Since fewer healthcare services were available, a comparatively greater number of people were tested who were at high risk for STIs, such as people with symptoms or people who received partner notification.
Of the women who got tested, 17.2% had a positive result. This figure was 22.6% among heterosexual men. In STI consultations for men who have sex with men (MSM), 25.3% tested positive (consulations in the PrEP pilot are not included in this figure).
This means that over 1 in 6 women and 1 in 5 men who got tested had an STI. The percentage of positive tests was lower than in 2020, but still higher than in 2019, particularly among heterosexual men and MSM.
The national Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) pilot programme was launched at the SHCs in 2019. Since then, the SHCs have held substantially more PrEP consultations. Participants in the PrEP pilot visit the SHC every three months for a PrEP consultation. In 2021, 40% of the consultations for MSM were PrEP consultations. In 17.7% of these consultations, the STI test result was positive. On 31 December 2021, the PrEP pilot programme had an estimated 7,693 participants.