Monday, July 9, 2012.
latest figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show new
sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses rose by two per cent in
England last year, with nearly 427,000 new cases, reversing the small
decline observed in 2010. Young heterosexual adults (15-24 years) and
men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the groups at highest risk.
annual HPA points out that the overall rise seen in 2011 was primarily
driven by new diagnoses increasing in gonorrhoea which is up by 25 per
cent on 2010, syphilis, which isup by 10 per cent and genital herpes is
up by five per cent.
study also suggests that the largest upsurge in new diagnoses between
2010 and 2011 was seen among men who have sex with other men (MSM). For
homosexual males, gonorrhoea increased by 61 per cent, chlamydia by 48
per cent and syphilis by 28 per cent
heterosexuals, overall rates remained highest in young adults (15-24
years old), accounting for the average of 50 per cent increase in all
new gonorrhoea, genital warts as well as genital herpes diagnoses.
Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at the HPA, said: “The 2011
data are a matter of concern regarding young heterosexuals and men who
have sex with men. We anticipated some increase in diagnoses due to
improvements in testing in recent years, but not on the scale seen here.
These data show that too many people are putting themselves at risk of
STIs and serious health problems by having unsafe sex.
rises in 2011 demonstrate it is crucial the work to reduce STIs
continues. Improving awareness and encouraging safer sexual behaviour
through health promotion and education is essential to helping prevent
STIs. Coupled with this, ensuring easy access to sexual health services
and STI screening is important for controlling the transmission of all
STIs and needs to be focused on groups at highest risk.”
Hughes added: “The importance of STI prevention and good sexual health
becomes even clearer given emerging resistance to gonorrhoea treatment.
Laboratory testing over the last five years has shown a large increase
in the amount of resistance to the main drugs used to treat gonorrhoea,
presenting the very real danger of untreatable gonorrhoea in the
combat the continuing high rates of STI transmission in England, and
the growing risk of gonorrhoea treatment resistance it is essential to:
· Always use a condom when having sex with casual and new partners.
· Get tested regularly if you are in one of the highest risk groups:
o Sexually active under 25 year olds should be screened for chlamydia every year, and on change of sexual partner
MSM having unprotected sex with casual or new partners should have an
HIV/STI screen at least annually, and every three months if changing
screened for HIV/STIs can lead to early identification and treatment,
as often these infections have no symptoms. In addition, reducing the
number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships
can reduce the risk of being infected with an STI.
is one of the most common STIs in young adults, often has no symptoms
and can result in infertility. Although the 2011 data shows a four per
cent drop in cases of chlamydia in young adults, from approximately
154,000 to 148,000?, this is due to falling numbers of younger adults
being screened, and consequently fewer cases being ascertained.
Angie Bone, director of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme,
said: “This is a trend we need to reverse. Our aim is to encourage all
sexually active under 25 year olds to get screened every year, or on
change of partner, so a hidden infection can be found and treated.
Testing is simple, painless and available on the NHS for this group,
from GPs, pharmacies, family planning clinics and sexual health