GU Clinic sees strong increase in patient numbers

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The number of patients seeking treatment at the Genitourinary Clinic at Mater Dei has increased sharply in recent years, figures supplied by Health Minister Chris Fearne.

In reply to a parliamentary question by PN MP Claudette Buttigieg, Fearne confirmed that the number has increased steadily since 2015. The clinic treated patients on 4,058 occasions in 2015, but this number went up to 6,022 in 2016, 6,277 in 2017 and 7,218 in 2018, before reaching a record of 7,469 last year.

Men have generally accounted for around two-thirds of all visits to the GU Clinic during the five-year period.

Buttigieg also asked for statistics on the number of people who contracted an STD following visits to “massage parlours,” but Fearne replied that the GU Clinic did not keep such information.

HPV is Malta’s most common STD

In reply to another question by Buttigieg, Fearne also confirmed that the most common sexually-transmitted disease diagnosed in Malta has been the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection since 2017. Chlamydia had topped the list in 2015 and 2016.

An HPV infection often causes no symptoms, but may persist in some cases and result in genital warts. In more serious cases, HPV may cause precancerous lesions that may lead to various cancers: nearly all cervical cancers are due to an HPV infection.

In light of its prevalence – particularly since most carriers are unaware that they are infected – the HPV vaccine has been included in the National Immunisation Schedule since 2012, given free of charge to girls on reaching their 12th birthday.