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Sexual health lead selected amid fears of untreated infections

By Mindo - 01st Oct 2020

The recruitment competition for a new Medical Director in Sexual Health has taken place and a candidate had been selected, according to the HSE. “It is anticipated that the post will be filled in Q4, 2020,” a spokesperson told the Medical Independent.

The National Sexual Health Strategy 2015-2020 “will be updated once the current pandemic situation allows”.

In 2015, Dr Fiona Lyons, Consultant in Genitourinary and HIV medicine at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, was appointed as the first ever HSE National Clinical Lead for Sexual Health Services.

NGOs and clinicians working in sexual health are increasingly concerned about a potential upsurge in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) following the extensive curtailment of sexual health services during the pandemic. “Many sexual health services reopened in July/August. The remaining services are preparing to re-open and will do so as (staff and physical) capacity allows,” stated the HSE spokesperson last month.

“All public sexual health services continue to face service restrictions in light of social distancing requirements. In general, public sexual health services operate on a triage basis, which includes prioritisation of those on treatment, such as for HIV, to ensure continuity of care, or those who have symptoms of an STI and require treatment.

“Services are working hard to get through any backlogs/waiting lists, or providing catch-up services, eg, vaccines, where clinic space is available. Services have changed how they operate in order to maximise service provision within the current context, which includes a combination of online consultations, telephone support and faceto-face appointments.”

Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has described a significant reduction in STI notifications compared to 2019. This trend is “likely to be multi-factorial”, said a HSE spokesperson.

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