Sexual health and HIV specialty signals urgent need for more doctors to meet soaring demand

  • 11th June 2024

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has launched a new campaign – LoveGUM – to drive more people to choose a career in Genitourinary Medicine. This comes amid rising STIs, with levels of gonorrhoea in England now at the highest ever level since data records began in 1918 and new diagnoses of syphilis at levels not seen since 1948.1

Sexual health services are also continuing to experience growing levels of demand for care. The number of consultations delivered by sexual health services in England in 2023 reached a record 4.61 million, a 5% increase from the year before, and a 44.3% increase from 2019.  Furthermore, the HIV transmission, management and treatment landscape has changed significantly in the last 40 years. GUM physicians are at the frontline of delivering the HIV Action Plan to end new HIV transmissions by 2030, whilst also supporting an increasing cohort of people growing old with HIV.

BASHH states that a strengthened expert GUM workforce is vital to meet this rising demand for services, complexity of presentations, and to ensure preparedness for emerging and future public health challenges.

The LoveGUM campaign is being backed by Bristol Health Partners’ Sexual Health Improvement (SHIP) HIT and Fast-Track Cities Bristol.

Professor Matt Phillips, President of BASHH commented:

“We need GUM physicians now more than ever. With rising STI rates and increasing demand for a range of services from sexual health care settings, we need a robust, highly skilled workforce in place. Genitourinary Medicine is an evolving specialty that truly serves the whole population, including people who are frequently underrepresented in health. The LoveGUM campaign is all about championing the crucial and brilliant specialty of Genitourinary Medicine and encouraging junior doctors to consider it when making decisions about their specialty.”

Dr Naomi Sutton, GUM Consultant and Channel 4 TV doctor, is also backing the campaign:

“The impact GUM physicians can have on patients’ lives is immense. As GUM doctors we are tasked with developing unique connections with our patients, ensuring people are met with non-judgemental, expert care. GUM doctors make a difference in the everyday, from helping people have safe and good sex to longer-term chronic STIs and HIV management. I am proud to endorse this campaign which champions the GUM specialty and the value it has on individuals and society. The reason I love going to work every day is because I can see the impact I can have on someone’s sexual and overarching health – because you cannot separate the two.”

To highlight the important field to junior doctors choosing their specialty, the LoveGUM campaign shines light on the rewarding nature of GUM, which incorporates clinical skills and knowledge from a wide variety of areas.

Specialising in GUM is an attractive career path for junior doctors. As part of the campaign, a survey was conducted to understand attitudes towards the specialty. People working in GUM pointed to the opportunity the specialty provides to make a real difference to patients’ lives as a key reason for enjoying their job. The fact that over two thirds (68%) of GUM doctors enjoy the variety of work that the specialty involves is a testament to the diversity of exposure of working in GUM. Furthermore, 82% of those who had chosen their specialty most enjoy that GUM offers a good work-life balance.2  

Find out more about the LoveGUM campaign, including the tools and materials developed for doctors:


[1] UK Health Security Agency. Sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England: 2023 report. Available at Accessed June 2024.

[2] BASHH survey conducted in November 2023. Data on file