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The potential barriers to attendance at specialist sexually transmitted infection (STI) services have long been recognised. The Royal Commission report in 1916 advised that to be effective, services needed to be “skilled, free … and provided at the earliest possible moment.” In addition, clinicians needed to be aware of “the fear of disgrace and the consequent desire for concealment” that could hamper treatment delivery.1 In many respects the UK GUM services have risen to these challenges. The majority of clinics provide timely, effective care from easy to access and well located clinics.2 We are successful at attracting new referrals and have seen a year on year increase in voluntary attendances with a record 1.5 million consultations in 1999. With this level of success it would be easy to conclude that STI services are both accessible and acceptable for at least the majority of the UK population. However, it would appear that many patients with known or suspected STIs are still reluctant to attend genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics for care. The principal suspected reason for this is the stigma associated with an STI diagnosis, which may be reinforced by the need for attendance at GUM clinics.3 In this regard, genitourinary medicine has much in common with mental health and cancer services. However, GUM specialists particularly value open access and strive to provide a confidential, non-judgmental, and supportive service, so it is particularly galling for them that …