A new report by Public Health England (PHE) shows the number of new diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) increased by 5 per cent in 2018 in comparison to 2017. The growing numbers were reflected in growing demands for sexual health services, with the number of consultations both in clinic settings and online increased by 7 per cent between 2017 and 2018, from 3.3 million to 3.6 million.
In 2018, gonorrhoea diagnoses rose by 26 per cent. PHE says this trend is concerning given the emergence of extensively drug-resistant gonorrhoea.
Cases of syphilis also increased and have more than doubled over the past decade, from 2,847 in 2009 to 7,541 in 2018. Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 75 per cent of cases in 2018.
Chlamydia remained the most commonly diagnosed STI, accounting for almost half of new STI diagnoses (218,095). The 15-24 years age group accounts for 60 per cent of new cases, an increase of 2 per cent since 2017. PHE says this is in line with the National Chlamydia Screening programme’s aim to increase detection and reduce prevalence of chlamydia by proactively offering screening to young people.
The rate of genital warts diagnoses among girls aged 15-17 years was 92 per cent lower in 2018 compared to 2014. A decline of 82 per cent was seen in heterosexual boys of the same age, which suggests substantial herd protection.