- A ‘hot vax summer’ is great news for some – but scientists are worried it may lead to an STI boom.
- Testing for STIs plummeted during the pandemic, and STI tracing resources were lost to Covid.
- To protect yourself, use barrier contraception and test regularly, say experts.
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Scientists are warning that the freedom of a ‘hot vax summer’ could lead to a boom in sexually transmitted infections.
Whilst people are keen to make up for lost time – and connections – lost to social distancing and lockdowns, experts warn people to take precautions.
“We are expecting the summer of love. People are going to be connecting this summer as they come out of the pandemic and we think that is, unfortunately, going to drive STI rates even higher,” David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told NBC News.
And it’s true for people across the world. There are concerns about the potential for a ‘summer of STIs’ in both the UK and USA.
Not only are people expected to be having more casual sex, and therefore potentially spreading more STIs, but people are screening for them less, too.
A study published in May 2021 found that screening for STIs dropped significantly during the lockdowns of 2020, up to 59% for female patients and 63% for male patients. This means an expected 27,659 (26.4%) chlamydia and 5,577 (16.5%) gonorrhea cases were potentially missed from March through June 2020.
Further to this, STI tracing resources – once a spearheading force to try and manage the spread of STIs – have been slashed, with contact tracing specialists and funding being transferred to manage the Covid crisis, according to Modern Healthcare.
However, it isn’t all bad. Marcus Sandling, the clinical director of sexual health at Callen-Lorde, a New York community health center serving the LGBTQ community, told BuzzFeed that the pandemic might have given us helpful lessons in how to communicate about our health and any related risks.
“I feel like the pandemic was kind of a useful tool when discussing STIs with patients, particularly after positives,” said Sandling. “Both contracting an STI as well as contracting COVID are essentially episodes of infectious disease transmission where one partner may be completely unaware of their current infection.”
The excitement of many people being vaccinated against Covid and the lifting of restrictions can seem too joyful to want to consider the possibility of STIs. However, sexual wellness company Jo Divine recommend doing the following to stay safe whilst having fun:
- Use a barrier method of contraception when with a partner – that includes a condom or dental dam.
- Have an STI test after each sexual partner. Don’t worry, they’re quick and easy, with plenty of at-home, postal options now available.
- Stay informed – don’t feel scared to ask questions about your sexual health. After all, knowledge is power