A report published by Public Health England (PHE) found that there was a 20% increase in syphilis in the UK. It’s the largest number of reported cases since 1949. Gonorrhea is also on the rise.
The good news is that overall, the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) remained stable in 2017 compared to 2016 — but there’s also a lot of bad news. Following the 10-year trend, syphilis rates continue to grow, with the vast majority of cases (78%) being reported in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Black and minority ethnic populations are also disproportionately affected.
Across all STIs, the highest rates of diagnoses are reported among individuals aged 16 to 24, which again, is both good and bad news. The good news is that these cases can likely be prevented by simply using a condom, and awareness campaigns (especially in schools and universities) can have a big impact. The bad news is that the health impact of these infections can be devastating.
Dr. Gwenda Hughes, Consultant Scientist and Head of Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Section at PHE, said:
“Sexually transmitted infections pose serious consequences to health – both your own and that of your current and future sexual partners. The impact of STIs can be considerable, with some causing infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and harm to unborn babies. Consistent and correct condom use with new and casual partners is the best defence against STIs, and if you are at risk, regular check-ups are essential to enable early diagnosis and treatment.”
Doctors and researchers have expressed great concern at the rise of gonorrhea, which is threatening to become completely drug-resistant. In March, the first case of super-gonorrhea was detected in the UK, and drug resistance is one of the main reasons of health concerns worldwide. Meanwhile, the government continues to make significant cuts to the management of these diseases.
Overall, there were 422,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England, including 7,137 diagnoses of syphilis and 44,676 diagnoses of gonorrhea.
However, the report ends on a very positive note. Genital warts have decreased by a whopping 90% since 2009, reflecting the widespread administration of the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine in girls aged 12-13. It’s another case of vaccines pushing back a very dangerous disease
Read the full report and breakdown of data here.