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Sexual health: Gonorrhoea cases rise by over a quarter

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The public is being urged to practice safe sex The public is being urged to practice safe sex and use condoms

The public is being urged to practise safe sex, as a Public Health England report finds that cases of gonorrhoea rose by 26% in 2019.

The number of annual gonorrhoea diagnoses rose 26% between 2018 and 2019 from 56,232 to 70,936. This rise contributed to an overall increase of 5% in new sexually transmitted infection diagnoses in 2019, from 447,522 in 2018 to 468,342.

Cases rose in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men from 26,864 to 33,853; heterosexual women from 14,167 to 17,826; and in heterosexual men from 13,036 to 15,253.

‘The considerable rise of gonorrhoea cases in England, as well as the continued rise of other STIs, is concerning. It is important to emphasise that sexually transmitted infections can pose serious consequences to health – both your own and that of current and future sexual partners,’ said Dr Hamish Mohammed, National Lead for Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance at Public Health England.

‘We have seen that gonorrhoea has become more resistant to antibiotics and expect to see further cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea in the future, which will be challenging for healthcare professionals to manage.’

Cases of syphilis have increased by 10% from 2018 with 7,982 cases being reported in 2019. With 229,411 cases diagnosed in 2019, chlamydia increased by 5% since 2018 and remains the most commonly diagnosed STI.

Across all sexually transmitted infections, the highest rates of diagnoses continue to be seen in 15- to 24-year-olds, MSM and some minority ethnic groups. This is likely due, in part, to higher rates of partner change and/or more concurrent sexual partnerships without consistent condom use, and in some MSM there is evidence of increased transmission of STIs due to ‘chemsex’.

‘The consistent and correct use of condoms with new and casual sexual partners is the best defence against all sexually transmitted infections,’ added Dr Mohammed. ‘If you have had sex without a condom with a new or casual partner, you should get tested.’

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