NHS Lanarkshire has seen a sharp decline in the number of young men aged 20 and below accessing essential sexual health services.
Between 2018 and the end of 2021 overall attendance at young people’s sexual health clinics dropped by 37%, with a 64% drop in males over the same period.
The covid-19 pandemic could have played a part in this steep decline, according to experts at NHS Lanarkshire.
However, in contrast, women’s attendance numbers have gone up from 87% in 2018 to 92% so far in 2022.
The number of young people with STIs in Scotland has remained high throughout the four year period, with many going undiagnosed due to being “symptomless”.
Lead consultant of sexual health at NHS Lanarkshire, Dr Rashmi Ronghe, said: “The pandemic has presented us with challenges, but the proportion of young females accessing services has always been significantly higher than males.
“What we want is for young males to understand what free services are on offer and how easily they can accessed, without worrying about being embarrassed.
“STIs remain high, particularly among young people in Scotland and can go undiagnosed as they can often be symptomless”.
During #SaferSexLanarkshire week, which takes place from May 9 to May 15, clinicians are making a fresh appeal to young men across the region to access the free, confidential, and discreet services.
Karen Stewart, sexual health team Lead said: “Young men are reluctant to attend a clinic on their own, but if they are aware of a pal who has attended, they are much more likely to visit.
“The prevailing attitude is that young males will only attend if they absolutely have to. But what we want to do is prevent infections in the first place, and then if there is a problem, treat it as quickly as possible.
“All of our services are free, easy to access, and we take great care to ensure they are as discreet and reassuring as possible.”