The number of cases of gonorrhoea and syphilis diagnosed rose by 11% and 20% respectively in 2015, figures released by Public Health England (PHE) have found.
According to PHE, these rises have occurred mostly in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
‘The new statistics show sexually transmitted infection rates are still very high among gay men and young adults,’ said Gwenda Hughes, head of sexually transmitted infection surveillance at PHE. ‘We need to do more to raise awareness about STIs and how they can be prevented, especially the effectiveness of using condoms.’
A total of 434,456 sexually transmitted infections were reported in England in 2015. Of these, 54,275 of which were among gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, a 10% increase since 2014.
‘We are concerned by the increase in gonorrhoea and syphilis, particularly among men who have sex with men, and also with the considerable variation between different areas,’ said Natika Hall, chief executive of FPA, the sexual health charity. ‘There is a strong link between poorer sexual health – one sign of which is in higher rates of STI diagnoses – and higher levels of deprivation.’
Chlamydia was the most commonly diagnosed STI, accounting for 200,288 or 46% of cases, followed by genital warts with 68,310 cases. The total number of cases has fallen by 3%, mostly due to a 4% and 7% drop in chlamydia and genital warts respectively.
However, the fall in chlamydia was due to a decline in patients having themselves tested. Only 13% of young men and 32% of young women were tested in 2015. ‘The small decrease from 2014 is in part due to less chlamydia diagnoses from clinics in community settings, which means we must increase opportunities to reach people, like through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme for young people,’ added Ms Hall.