William Eichler 03 September 2020

Health experts urge ‘safer sex’ after rise in gonorrhoea cases

Health experts urge ‘safer sex’ after rise in gonorrhoea cases image

The Government has urged people to practice safer sex after data reveals that gonorrhoea cases in England have risen by 26%.

A new report by Public Health England (PHE) shows the number of annual gonorrhoea diagnoses rose 26% between 2018 and 2019 (from 56,232 to 70,936).

The data outlined in the Sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England 2019 report has prompted health officials to warn of the need to practise safe sex, including correct condom use.

This rise contributed to an overall increase of 5% in new sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses in 2019 (from 447,522 in 2018 to 468,342).

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).

It was also reported in heterosexual women from 14,167 to 17,826 (26% increase) and heterosexual men from 13,036 to 15,253 (17% increase).

The rise is explained in part by an increase in testing, using more accurate diagnostic tests and more comprehensive data on STI diagnoses.

‘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 STIs 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.

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

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.

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