According to a new study of sexual health from Lloydspharmacy – 72% of men have never had an STI screen, compared to 62% of women. Lloydspharmacy also found men were almost twice as likely to test positive for certain STIs such as chlamydia.
13% of men buying chlamydia tests from Lloydspharmacy’s Online Doctor tested positive compared to just six per cent of women.
The research from the community pharmacy chain also found that men are placing themselves at greater risk of picking up an STI with 13% of men having had unprotected sex with more than one person over the last five years, almost double that of women (7%).
With the research revealing that men are more reluctant to be tested but significantly more likely to test positive than women, the findings fuel concerns that men may be delaying testing until they are showing symptoms and that real rates of infection are significantly higher than reported.
Although men are less likely to have had a face-to-face consultation for an STI screen, according to Lloydspharmacy sales of tests online are split almost equally between men and women. This suggests that men prefer the anonymity of the online channel.
Through its Online Doctor service the community pharmacy chain has launched a postal Platinum Test for men which screens for five genital infections; genital Chlamydia, genital gonorrhoea, mycoplasma, ureaplasma and trichomonas. This confidential postal service allows men to be tested and if found to be positive, treated without the need to visit their GP.
“The lower rate of face-to-face testing and higher incidence of positive results amongst men suggests that many men may be waiting until they suspect they have an infection before getting themselves tested”, said Clare Kerr, Lloydspharmacy’s head of sexual health. “This is particularly worrying as many STIs don’t have any obvious symptoms, so men could be putting both themselves and their partners at risk by delaying tests.”
“Embarrassment is a huge barrier to testing and so we hope that removing the need to see a GP or GUM clinic face-to-face will encourage men to test themselves regularly. We can provide accurate tests for a wide range of genital infections anonymously and discreetly through the Online Doctor.”