A new report by the Public Health England (PHE) has shown that the cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasing in England.
STIs are infections that are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex, or close sexual contact.
According to official figures revealed on Tuesday, over 447,694 cases of the STIs were diagnosed in 2018, compared with 424,724 the previous year.
The biggest increase was in gonorrhoea, where there were 56,259 new cases — 14,000 more than in 2017 — and the largest number since 1978.
Chlamydia remained the most commonly diagnosed STI, accounting for almost half of new STI diagnoses – 218,095, while there were 7,541 cases of syphilis — a 5% increase on 2017.
Cases of genital warts fell by 3 percent, to 57,318, while there were 33,867 diagnoses of genital herpes.
It is believed that the increase in STIs was likely due to people not using condoms “correctly and consistently”.
Gwenda Hughes, a doctor from PHE, said the rise in sexually transmitted infections is concerning.
“STIs can pose serious consequences to health – both your own and that of current and future sexual partners,” she said.
“No matter what age you are, or what type of relationship you are in, it’s important to look after your sexual health.
“If you have sex with a new or casual partner, make sure you use condoms and get regularly tested.”
The report by PHE showed that resistance had grown for three of the key drugs used to treat the infection — ciprofloxacin, cefixime and azithromycin.
Experts also cautioned that bisexuals and homosexuals are at higher risk of contracting the disease, with almost half of cases diagnosed in this group.
Debbie Laycock, head of policy and public affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust, said the figures showed the need for “urgent action to improve the state of the nation’s sexual health”.
“We are yet again seeing soaring rates of syphilis and gonorrhoea, and increases in the number of people attending sexual health services, which is happening against a backdrop of central government stripping £700 million from public health budgets in the last five years,” she said.
“The Government cannot bury its head any longer, the consequences of under-investment and services struggling to meet demand is plain to see with these STI numbers.
“Progress has sharply halted in tackling rates of chlamydia, with rates up 6% last year, while there continues to be a decline in the number of chlamydia tests being carried out. This is clear evidence that removing access to testing is having a direct impact on the rates of chlamydia with cases now rising.”
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