“Huge shift” towards digital sexual health

More and more people in England are using online services, like SH:24, to support their sexual health.

New figures from the UK Health Security Agency showed a 279% increase in the number of online sexual health consultations, compared with 4 years ago. Overall, the number of consultations has gone up by 19% since 2019. But fewer people are choosing to make face-to-face appointments, leading to a 32% drop in in-person consultation numbers. They prefer online services with almost 2 million online consultations taking place in 2023.

Dr Paula Baraitser, Medical Director at SH:24 and a consultant in sexual health at King’s College Hospital in London, said: “This represents a huge shift in the way that we deliver sexual health services. The timing of it clearly suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the shift, but people have not gone back to pre-pandemic behaviour. The move towards online testing has helped to increase the country’s overall STI testing capacity while lowering costs.”

And this shift to doing things online has been noticed here at SH:24 too. We saw 559,885 test kits ordered last year, which is more than 4 times the amount ordered in 2019. The confidentiality and convenience of online testing services is encouraging a lot more people to test regularly and manage their sexual health.

Published on: 05 June 2024