Saying Hi to More STIs: The Danger of Cutting Sexual Health Funding

Over a year ago, the STI clinic on campus closed due to funding cuts. While students can still access the contraception clinic at the NHS GP Surgery on campus, many students have had to commute elsewhere to seek help with their sexual health queries. A year later, the government has announced more funding cuts to sexual health. It’s time to change the world around us.

Why has this happened?

In 2013, the responsibility for sexual health was transferred from NHS England onto local councils. Since the central government plans to cut public health funding by £85m, local councils will have very little access to grants that will help them to continue delivering crucial services like STI testing.

One of the direct result of this is that existing sexual health clinics are overstretched and cannot cope with increasing demand from an increasingly health-conscious population. As such, our sexual health charity partners (Spectra London and NHS Surrey Integrated Sexual Health & HIV Services) have been unable to commit their limited resources to another STI and HIV test drive for Royal Holloway students.

This is very concerning, especially since young people (15-24) are at higher risk for contracting STIs than other groups in society, which means university campuses are a hotspot for both chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

What’s Happening Now?

We know many of you care about your sexual health, given how well-received the previous STI & HIV test drives have been (see the results from last year and the start of Term 1).

If you believe that you should have easy access to sexual health provision especially while you’re studying at Royal Holloway, I encourage you to write to our local MP, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP (philip.hammond.mp@parliament.uk) about your concern.

If you are unsure about how to write a letter to a local MP, please click here where you can send our pre-written template.

What next?

Although there is a drastic cut to sexual health provisions which makes STI testing difficult, there are still ways you can look after your sexual health! Did you know that the SU Advice Centre provides free condoms, sanitary products and STI test kits for chlamydia and gonorrhoea? Remember to grab some the next time you drop by the SU!

Following the success of last year’s video in myth-busting common misconceptions about sex and sexual health, I will be releasing another video next week (11-15 Feb) to encourage students to reflect more on their understanding of different sexual anatomies. Stay tuned!

I will also be hosting a panel discussion to discuss the relationship between sex work and university life, to help people better understand the nature of sex work, and why decriminalization of sex work can be a crucial step forward. It’s free to attend, so please bring your friend along for an evening of informative conversation!

Willow Wong // Vice President Welfare and Diversity