Sunday 16 October 2005
22:15 BST, BBC One
How the STI epidemic is overwhelming Britain's sexual health service
In the next few months the government is due to unveil a £50 million advertising campaign warning of the dangers of unsafe sex - the biggest sexual health campaign since the portentous 1986 "Don't Die of Ignorance" initiative. It's long overdue.
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Britain's sexual health is in rapid decline: in the last decade cases of gonorrhoea and HIV have more than doubled, syphilis is resurgent (up 1500%), and the number of sexually active people under 25 infected with chlamydia is now thought to number just under half a million. One of the country's most senior Genito-Urinary clinicians, Professor George Kinghorn, tells Panorama that it amounts to "a public health crisis".
With extensive access to patients and staff at the GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) clinic in Sheffield, Panorama reveals how the STI (sexually transmitted infection) epidemic is overwhelming Britain's sexual health service. Across the country, waiting times are at record levels, with many clinics forced to turn away patients. Gill Bell, the Nurse Consultant in Sexual Health Advising in Sheffield, explains how it has become "the survival of the fittest".
Panorama follows the story of several patients seeking treatment to assess the other costs, including the poignant case of 24-year-old Sian, who developed Chlamydia over two years ago and has been struggling to get pregnant ever since. We're with her in the operating theatre when her surgeon, Bill Ledger, discovers that her tubes are blocked with adhesions; and with her when she learns - just hours afterwards - whether she will be able to conceive naturally again. Professor Ledger estimates that 100 women a year, in Sheffield alone, are undergoing such operations.
Reporter: Andy Davies
Producer: Chris Woods
Assistant Producers: Jack Enright, Lucy Willmore
Deputy Editors: Andrew Bell, Frank Simmonds
Editor: Mike Robinson