News from the frontline: sexually transmitted infections in teenagers attending a genitourinary clinic in south east London

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Objectives:To define the incidence and characterise the clinical presentation of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in people aged ≤16 years old attending a genitourinary clinic in south east London.Methods:Cross sectional analysis of clients aged ≤16 years attending one genitourinary clinic. A subgroup was identified for priority treatment. Data collected included age, reason for presentation, diagnosis, contraceptive use, and adherence to therapy. Diagnoses were compared to the KC60 codes for female attendances of all ages.Results:144 females and 18 males with a mean age of 15.4 years attended, of whom 49% were symptomatic. Compared to other attenders, clients aged ≤16 years were significantly more likely to have an STI (64% versus 22%, p <0.00000001); 27 were pregnant (of whom 96% requested a termination of pregnancy); 47% did not return for follow up; and 12% did not adhere to treatment plan. Those diagnosed with an STI were significantly less likely to reattend (p<0.001).Conclusions:There is a high rate of STIs in 16 year olds compared to national figures and to general clinic attenders. Poor contraception is often overlooked within the genitourinary medicine clinic. Young attenders frequently fail to reattend for follow up. Priority treatment did not affect outcome. Further strategies are needed to identify ways to improve young people’s access to genitourinary medicine clinics.

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