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Sexual and Reproductive Health

Key findings (update published April 2019)

  • Sexual lifestyles in England have changed substantially in recent decades and sexual activity is continuing into later life, meaning sexual health services (SHSs) need to implement a life course approach

  • The rate of sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing has been increasing in Wirral and nationally since 2012, but in 2017 the rate decreased for the first time since then. Wirral consistently remains below the national testing average

  • Wirral’s STI diagnosis rate has been higher than the national and regional rates until 2013 but has been decreasing since 2014. In 2017 Wirral’s rate was lower than that of both England and the North West for the first time since 2012

  • Diagnosis rates of genital herpes and syphilis have been increasing in Wirral. Diagnosis rates of gonorrhoea in Wirral have remained relatively stable since 2012 but in 2017 they have increased to the highest rate since 2013. Rates of genital warts have sharply decreased from 2013 to 2016 with a small increase in activity in 2017. Chlamydia detection rates increased in Wirral from 2012 to 2015, but have decreased in the last 2 reported years

  • HIV prevalence in Wirral has increased since 2011, but national rates still remain twice as high as Wirral rates. Wirral has a higher proportion of late HIV diagnosis than national and regional averages

  • Wirral has a higher proportion of HPV vaccination coverage and cervical cancer screening coverage than national averages

  • STIs are most common among people aged 15-24 years old, the most frequent attenders of sexual health services (SHSs) in Wirral. Females are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI and are also more likely to attend SHSs in Wirral

  • Men who have sex with men, non-white ethnic groups and the more deprived population are disproportionately affected by STIs in Wirral and nationally

  • Wirral’s general fertility rate has been similar to the national average and decreased with fluctuations over time

  • Although Wirral’s under 18 conception rate has roughly halved over the past two decades, it remains significantly above national and regional rates

  • Wirral had a significantly higher abortion rate than national and regional rates in 2016, with females aged 18 - 19 years having the highest rate. Total abortion rates in Wirral have increased since 2012. A higher percentage of abortions in Wirral occur before the 10th week of pregnancy than national averages and more women have had repeat abortions in Wirral than nationally

  • In 2017, the main contraceptive method chosen by female Wirral residents attending sexual reproductive health (SRH) services were user-dependent methods, accounting for 62.4% of all contraception, higher than national averages. The use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) increased with age in Wirral, following national trends

  • Wirral had a higher proportion of attendants of sexual reproductive health (SRH) services being provided with emergency contraceptive care than national figures, most commonly being prescribed emergency contraceptive pills. Total prescription of emergency contraception at SRH services was most frequent in the 20-24 year old age group and in the more deprived population in Wirral during 2017

  • Sexual health data can sometimes be incorrectly coded or missing and this can lead to a potential misleading interpretation of data and trends. The coding of data in Wirral needs to be as efficiently and correctly inputted into systems as possible to minimise the risk of errors

  • In the future, developing a greater insight from the better coded data for certain sexual health indicators could help to highlight and target at risk populations

  • While we have good and improving services in Wirral to a wide variety of sexual health issues there are some areas that require continued development particularly in relation to women’s reproductive health

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