Syphilis: PHE reports 20% increase in cases in 2017

  • Public Health England

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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New data from Public Health England (PHE) show a 20% increase in reported diagnoses of syphilis in 2017 compared with the previous year. The figures show a 148% relative increase in new diagnoses of syphilis last year compared with 2008.

The latest PHE Health Protection Report reports 422,147 new diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) documented by sexual health services in England in 2017. The most commonly diagnosed STIs was chlamydia, which accounted for 48% of all new STI diagnoses. First episode genital warts accounted for 14% of all new STI diagnoses, while gonorrhoea and non-specific genital infections accounted for 11% and 8%, respectively.

Although the overall number of STIs remained relatively stable compared with 2016, the number of gonorrhoea cases increased by 22% relative to the year before, with 44,676 cases reported in 2017. PHE has expressed concern about the increase given the recent emergence of extensively drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

On the positive side, the latest figures show that the number of diagnoses of first episode genital warts in 15-17-year-old girls has decreased by 90% compared with 2009, largely attributed to the high coverage of the National HPV Immunisation Programme. There were also 2361 fewer chlamydia diagnoses made among 15-24-year-olds in 2017 compared with 2016, a reduction of 2%.

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