Research finds half of all sexual health testing appointments are denied

Research finds half of all sexual health testing appointments are denied

Research from the Terrence Higgins Trust and the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV has found that 49% of all sexual health appointment requests in England, Scotland and Wales are denied.

The study, which took place in 2022, saw a mystery shopper attempt to book appointments at 57 sexual health clinics. In the study, the mystery shopper presented as a woman in her 20s with both male and female partners and was displaying no symptoms after having sex without a condom.

Only 51% of the sexual health clinics that were contacted by phone offered a face-to-face appointment and the average waiting time to be seen was 13 days. In rural England, the average waiting time was 19 days.

The study also found that only 10% of clinics contacted had appointments that could be booked online, and in Wales there were no clinics with this option. Furthermore, only 11% of clinics offered drop-in services available to all.

Why sexual health testing should be a priority

In 2022, 392,453 sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed in England, which highlights a 24% rise from the year before. What’s more, the same research found a 50% increase in gonorrhoea since 2021, a 24% increase in chlamydia since 2021, and a 15% increase in syphilis since 2021. There has also been a 26% increase in STI diagnosis among people aged 15 to 24 since 2021.

While these statistics alone highlight the importance of regular sexual health testing, it is also important to consider that many individuals will be undiagnosed and therefore the total number of infections could be much higher.

In addition to this, many STIs don’t always present symptoms, meaning individuals can remain infected for many years without knowing. It’s believed that up to 70% of women suffering with chlamydia don’t have any symptoms. If left untreated, the risk of spreading these infections increases and they may also cause complications, including during pregnancy.

The best way to protect yourself from STIs is to always use a condom during intercourse and get tested regularly if having sex with new or casual partners, even if you are not showing any symptoms.

You can get free condoms at your local sexual health clinic and, if you’re under 25, you can also get them for free online.

Regular testing for STIs is also essential to maintain good sexual health. It’s recommended that you test for STIs if:

  • you or your partner have any unusual symptoms
  • you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner
  • you have another STI
  • a sexual partner tells you they have an STI

If your results show that an infection has been detected, you must contact your GP or local sexual health clinic as soon as possible for confirmatory testing, further guidance, and treatment options. You should also abstain from sexual contact to avoid passing the infection(s) on to other people, and contact any sexual partners to inform them of the result.

If you are experiencing symptoms that are causing you severe pain or discomfort, or that require a face-to-face examination, we advise you to contact your GP or local sexual health clinic as soon as possible.

It’s easy to order an STI test online including a 7-panel test for just £95 which detects Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Mycoplasma Genitalium, Mycoplasma Hominis, Trichomoniasis, Ureaplasma Parvum (UTI) and Ureaplasma Urealyticum (UTI).

We also have a range of other STI testing kits including tests for Herpes, HIV and Syphilis.

Simply order your test and we will ship your kit out to you in discreet, plain packaging. The kit will contain everything you need to collect your samples and return them to our expert UK laboratory for analysis. Results will be emailed to you within 2 working days.

For confidential advice on which is the right test for you, contact our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email

Please note you must be at least 16 years of age to purchase a home STI test kit from AlphaBiolabs.

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Explore our full range of home STI tests, from just £29.