Gonorrhoea cases have resurged in England since the easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in 2021, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.
New data indicates that gonorrhoea diagnoses from January to September 2022 were 21% higher than those reported over the same period in 2019. Data also indicates that during the first 9 months of 2022, gonorrhoea cases were higher than those reported over the same period in each of the last 3 years.
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‘Condoms aren’t just about preventing unwanted pregnancy; they are the main defence against STIs. If you have had condomless sex with a new or casual partner, it is even more important to get tested to detect any potential infections early and prevent passing them on to others,’ said Dr Katy Sinka, Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of the STI section at UKHSA.
‘You can get free condoms at your local sexual health clinic and if you’re under 25, you can also get them online.’
The data shows that the total number of gonorrhoea diagnoses from January to September 2022 (56,327) was 21% higher when compared to the same period in 2019 (46,541), the year when the highest number of diagnoses was reported.
Young people aged 15 to 24 years remain most likely to be diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) due to more frequent changes in sexual partners. Though STIs are usually easily treated with antibiotics, some STIs, including gonorrhoea, can have serious consequences as they can cause serious health issues such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
‘The rise in gonorrhoea cases provides an important reminder of the importance of testing for STIs and wearing a condom every time you have sex,’ said Dr Claire Dewsnap, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
‘By getting tested at least once a year, regardless of whether you’re showing symptoms, you can help minimise the risk of catching or passing on STIs when having sex. Delaying access to the right care and treatment also risks developing longer term problems which can be more difficult to address.’