The number of HIV cases in Scotland last year reached the highest figure over the past two decades according to an NHS report, the preliminary work of which started in 1986. In view of increasing HIV testing, nearly 364 new cases were identified in 2004 alone.
The incidence of other sexually transmitted infections also showed a considerable increase with the number of cases diagnosed with chlamydia infection approximating to 110% between 2000 and 2004. Alarmingly, two thirds of these cases were diagnosed in people below 25 years of age.
Nearly 845 cases of gonorrhoea were diagnosed, the majority of which were among men. The number of cases diagnosed with rose by as much as half since 1996, with over 60% of the diagnoses in women. The number of new cases of syphilis went up to 189, and a 10% increase was noted in the incidence of genital warts during 2004.
The spread of the infection during the 1980's was attributed to drug abuse. The present situation is however totally different with the highest rates of incidence found in homosexuals and heterosexual couples. Young women in particular show a tendency to develop sexually transmitted infections earlier in comparison to young men, probably highlighting a difference in the relative ages of partners.
Consistent with the above findings, there is also a parallel increase in the incidence of syphilis and lymphogranuloma venereum, amongst gay men that is proof enough for evidence of high-risk behavior in this group. A majority of these infections were harboured from a partner abroad, mainly in Africa.
The health officials in response to the above situation have expressed the need for a more effective system for communication of public message targeted at promoting reproductive health and minimising sexually transmitted infections.