OBJECTIVE--To investigate the travel history of clients presenting at a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic in order to assess the contribution made by sexual partnerships abroad to STD transmission in the UK. SUBJECTS--386 old and new clients who attended during a 3-month period and who had travelled abroad in the 3 months preceding their visit. METHODS--All participating clients self-completed a confidential questionnaire, the results of which were then linked to their clinical diagnosis (if any). RESULTS--25% of participants reported a new sexual partner during their most recent trip abroad. In comparison to those not reporting a new partner, they were more likely to be male, travelling alone, to have visited the clinic previously and to have no regular sexual partner. Two-thirds reported never or inconsistently using condoms with these new partners. A total of 11.6% of the STDs diagnosed in the study participants may have been acquired abroad. CONCLUSION--We have found a high rate of new sexual relationships reported by attendees at our GUM clinic, and a low rate of reported condom use. With high HIV incidence rates in many tourist regions, the need for further studies to establish the true extent of imported STDs in the UK is a priority, and primary prevention campaigns to inform travellers are of paramount importance.
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