The number of annual gonorrhoea diagnoses in England rose 26 per cent between 2018 and 2019 (from 56,232 to 70,936), a new report by Public Health England (PHE) shows.
The data outlined in the Sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England, 2019 report have prompted health officials to warn of the need to practise safe sex, including correct condom use.
Between 2018 and 2019, increases in gonorrhoea were reported in:
- gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from 26,864 to 33,853 (26% increase);
- heterosexual women from 14,167 to 17,826 (26% increase); and
- heterosexual men from 13,036 to 15,253 (17% increase).
The rise in diagnoses of gonorrhoea is explained in part by an increase in testing, using more accurate diagnostic tests and more comprehensive data on sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses, said PHE.
This rise in gonorrhoea cases contributed to an overall increase of 5 per cent in new STI diagnoses in 2019 (from 447,522 in 2018 to 468,342 in 2019).
Cases of syphilis increased by 10 per cent from 2018 with 7982 cases being reported in 2019.
With 229,411 cases diagnosed in 2019, chlamydia increased by 5 per cent since 2018 and remains the most commonly diagnosed STI.
In 2019, more than 1.3 million chlamydia tests were carried out in England among young people aged 15-24 years as part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme.
Across all STIs, the highest rates of diagnoses continue to be seen in 15- to 24-year-olds, MSM and some minority ethnic groups.
The number of consultations at sexual health services, in clinic settings and online increased by 7 per cent between 2018 and 2019 (from 3,613,447 to 3,852,121).
Dr Hamish Mohammed, National Lead for Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance at PHE, said the considerable rise of gonorrhoea cases in England, as well as the continued rise of other STIs, is concerning.