Panorama: Love Hurts was first broadcast on Sunday 16 October 2005 at 22:15 BST
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I watched with astonishment at the figures of STIs in Britain today and applaud the highlight of this and hope every parent will make their child aware of the risks involved and teach their child to respect their body and in turn respect those of prospective partners.
Kathy Chappelle, Glasgow
Don't blame the government, teach the children the word "no" and start their sex education with a film showing how all the nasty sexual infections look. The young today are only concerned with looks. It may have a better effect on their health.
Ena Lynn, England
I was diagnosed as having gonorrhoea some years ago and my tubes were blocked when the medical profession passed dye through them. What amazes me is that you give no hope for females to ever become pregnant as a result of this. Given time my body has healed itself and I have had two beautiful children since, albeit a few years later after the onset of the disease.
Anonymous, Bradford, West Yorkshire
GU is not the only way for testing. As a Family Planning Nurse, we can test and treat STIs and are usually able to see clients within one week. We are much more involved with sexual health screening and teaching young people, with oppurtunistic testing being carried out. I also think Chlamydia testing could be carried out routinely with cervical screening.
Karen Stewart, East Kilbride, Scotland
I am a consultant in GUM at Chester and was delighted to see your programme highlight all of the current issues. It was absoutely spot on. For the first time ever I felt that the work I am doing in appalling circumstances is recognised as important and definitely underfunded.
Dr Colm O'Mshony, Chester, Cheshire
Having watched this evening's programme on STIs I was shocked to learn the enormity of the problem. One thing that struck me was the link between the mutiple partners people have and drink. Education is obviously the first area that needs addressing, not the facts and figures but re-educating people to have some morals and some self pride. Young people don't seem to respect themselves enough to care for their own bodies. That's as scary and as incomprehensible to me as what makes young people become suicide bombers. They are all desperate for something in their lives. Society has done young people a huge injustice. Our generation have not given this new generation the tools to govern themselves. But it's not too late to re-address the imbalance.
Clare Jacklin, Wokingham Berkshire
An excellent programme, but no mention that a sexual health screen is possible with your GP. In the modern era many, but not all, would be happy to see their own doctor with sexual health issues. If more people did this, then the GU clinic would be more able to use the specialised services not possible at primary care, such as tracing of the sexual contacts.
Stephen Wray, Guernsey
I have been a sexual health adviser for almost 15 years and after watching your programme on STIs I am left more angry and frustrated. In my area the service is being scaled down, staff not replaced and services cut. Despite the rise in STIs I find it very hard to comprehend. Where are these people meant to go? To their GP? I think not as they are already over subscribed, and also they have not got the experience in dealing with such a sensitive matter.
Attracta Allan, Watford, Herts
I too want to applaud the BBC for highlighting this important issue. What I think is important to note is that it is a topic not easily discussed in society as people don't want to publicise that they may have a STI. I don't think the government is entirely to blame (parents and the wider community have a responsibility too), but I do think that sex education at school needs to be more structured. I'm 20 and can barely remember mine. What's the point of being taught it when you're eleven? You can't remember half of it by the time you're sexually active.
George, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Good programme, but like the government, I feel that you may be focusing more on the sypmtoms, than the cause. I feel that what is needed is to tackle the problem at its root. In other words, more and better education.
Allan Morris, UK
Having watched the programme I was shocked to find just how a poor a state the system is in. I know from personal experience how hard it is to get an appointment, but had no idea it was not just my town. I also feel regarding reaching those who don't already get themselves screened; when children in schools are educated about these diseases, they should also be told where they should be going to be screened, meet one of the nurses and have explained to them exactly what will happen during the screening process. Not as a scare tactic, but to avoid such ignorant rumours as "the umbrella in the japs eye" which would get a lot more men to check themselves.
A sad and shocking programme. But don't blame the government for its lack of spending on specialist clinics or adverts promoting safe sex. Instead, let's share the blame as a society for our failure to address the root cause: rampant sexuality starting at an earlier and earlier age. Without taking a moral stance on sexual issues, we are unlikely to reverse this trend. But as we all know, there is little appetite amongst us for that.
Graham Simon, Harrow, UK
Would the development of a test for Chlamydia that could be purchased over-the-counter and performed at home not ease the burden of diagnosis? Once diagnosed, the treatment seems to be fairly standard; could a pack not be made available to people who had a positive result to the test?
I realise that there are issues regarding false negatives and the emergence of treatment-resistant strains, but surely the provision of an available, immediate, and confidential diagnosis would free resources to look at the longer term consequences of the problem.
Pete Barnett, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
An excellent programme. Unfortunately, where the market is king the logic of sexual morality and temperance goes out of the window. The government "liberalising" the drinking laws has not helped. A return to marriage, parental respect, responsibility and religion - or at least some moral code - are essential for 21st century Britain.
Rafiq Mahmood, Edinburgh, Scotland
Interesting programme; however, the focus seemed to be on the STIs with a cure. What about the STIs without these like HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and the Herpes virus? It is too late once you receive one of these. There should be a programme to reinforce the importance that a simple trip to the GUM cannot sort out everything, then maybe there attitudes will change and people will start taking safe sex more seriously.
Concerned Parent, Dartford, Kent
The simple fact that young people are required to travel to GUM clinics miles away from their homes to be tested for STIs will put many off "routine" testing where there are no symptoms, but where infections might be caught early. Why can't tests be done at GP surgeries? It would be so easy to offer young women turning up for smear tests, a check for chlamydia and other STIs whilst they're there.
Brilliant programme, should have been made five years ago when the trends were already obvious. I disagree with the 'more education' solution - we are bad at changing sexual behaviour, but very good at treating STIs - IF the resources are there. We need bigger, better clinics and more of them, with more staff like the inspirational Gell Bell at Sheffield GUM.
Hilary Kinnell, Telford, UK
Well done Panorama for raising public awareness on this issue. STIs are a concern for every single person in the UK, despite their age. I was shocked by the Health Minister's response to your interviewing. If it is not the Government's job to deal with public awareness/education and funding, who should be dealing with this? Individuals are only able to make responsible choices when they are aware of the dangers. I also was upset by the alleged blaming of the Tory Government - personally I'm Lib Dem but I thought the HIV/AIDS campaign ran by the Tories was powerful and as your programme showed, quite effective.
In the documentary during the clinics the nurses were shown cleaning and stocking up. They should be trained to be doing swabs and tests, rather than taking on a more auxillary status. A lot of nurses in GUM are working as hand maidens, to doctors, instead of actually integrating clinically with patients on a nurse led status. If this was considered then maybe it would contribute to reduced waiting times. Having more of a nurse led service and possibly more outreach sites.
Adele Wilson (Sexual Health Nurse (for socially excluded patients), Hull (The Quays Surgery) UK
In reply to Catherine, chlamydia tests are sometimes carried out at the time of the smear test; however, you have to obtain the patients consent. Also the added problem now is that first smear appointments have been changed to 25 years of age and this is not the age group we ought to be targetting. More priority should be given to the teenagers attending for their 15 year old tetanus boosters within general practice. This would be an appropriate forum to include sexual health. Taking into account the "Gillick" competence of aforementioned clients. Also time is a big issue here: there are not enough appointments to devote that amount of time. Again it comes down to politics, money and not enough patient-focused care. Very sad.
Julie Nealon, Loughborough. United Kingdom.
I was shocked almost to tears by this programme. As a parent of three teenagers, I could not believe that we have let our society deteriorate to the level at which a young man finds his everyday life so boring or unfulfilling that he looks forward to getting out of his head on alcohol and sleeping with any girl he can find at the weekend just to make it bearable. There must be many reasons for this, and we should all try to improve things before society disintegrates altogether.
Helen Birkbeck, Bristol, UK
No real surprises, a generation brought up by a generation who decided to rebel against all the norms. Free spirit, free will, do you what you like. A number of the generation have no respect for others or themselves. A good night out is to get totally drunk and sleep with whoever is available.
It isn't just a case of there not being enough clinic spaces, the demand has outstripped the projected supply.
Robert, Glos, UK
Like Sian I am just about to have a laparoscopy to discover what kind of damage i have been left with after I contracted Chlamydia. I have no idea how long I had it before a blood test found it. My problem is that I have had many swab tests but they never showed any signs of infection. My consultant told me that sometimes the swabs miss the infection and it can go undetected. How long it takes to see anyone at a sexual health clinic is not the only problem: we need better and more thorough testing. If this had been found earlier I may not be in this situation.
Rachel, Bristol, UK
Working in the field of sexual health I was very interested to watch last night's programme. I note that several commenters have mentioned GP screening for STIs. GU clinics are a better place to test for most infections - in some instances results and treatment can be given straight away. They also have the proper testing materials and incubators to grow gonorrhoea which GP's surgeries won't have. GU clinics are strictly confidential - information will not be sent to GPs and therefore GP records, unless a client agrees to this. Information kept by GPs about STIs / HIV infection can be viewed by insurance and mortgage companies, and can affect applications for these services. GU services are used to these issues whereas an overworked GP may be less understanding.
I agree with comments for increased education - however this needs to begin in the home at a young age with basic discussions about the body, feelings and growing. Too many parents avoid discussing these issues due to embarassment. Sex education also needs to be an integrated part of the national curriculum in every school not just an optional extra for interested schools.
I also felt that the Health Minister blaming previous governments for the lack of services was beside the point. These issues need to be addressed now and they need to get on with it. For too long sexual health has been seen as the embarassing relative hidden away somewhere. We need to get sexual health out in the open and make it a priority for everyone.
HM, gateshead UK
In reply to Adele I couldn't agree more. Before working in general practice, I worked in GUM and had my own clinic list. I saw patients that just wanted a check, "MOT" as is was fondly referred to. It did free up the time for the Consultant to see the patients with more complex problems. This is a cheap way forward, so come on you Health Authorities! There are nurses out there that want to extend their role for the duty to the patient. It certainly is not for the money.
Julie Nealon, Loughborough, United Kingdom.
I am a newly qualified contraception and sexual health nurse advisor. I found your programme informative and balanced. I help at three different clinics in the South West, including one in a local community college. I have found the young people I see to be well informed and pro-active in looking after their sexual health. However it is the ones that do not come to a clinic that are at greater risk. The sooner there is a major national campaign to raise this awareness the better.
Jayne, Saltash, Cornwall