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PHE report surge in numbers of STIs among gay men

There was a 46% increase in syphilis infections and a 32% rise in gonorrhoea among gay men in England between 2013 and 2014, new figures from Public Health England reveal.

The PHE report said high levels of sex without a condom ‘probably account for most of this rise’, but it also said that better detection of gonorrhoea may have contributed to the increase.

The impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) remains greatest in young people under the age of 25 years and gay men, stressed PHE.

Overall, there were 439,243 STIs reported in England in 2014 – a fall of 0.3% (440,707) from the previous year.

The largest increases in diagnoses between 2013 and 2014 were syphilis (33% increase) and gonorrhoea (19% increase).

Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed STI, accounting for 47% of diagnoses (206,774 cases), followed by genital warts (70,612 cases).

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at PHE, said: ‘We are particularly concerned about the large rises in diagnoses among gay men. Gonorrhoea in particular is becoming harder to treat as new antibiotic resistant strains emerge.

‘The stats published today show that too many people are getting STIs. Reducing this spread must be a public health priority.’

Although young people are routinely offered chlamydia screening, only 14% of young men and 35% of young women were tested in 2014, said PHE.

Wide variation across the country was seen in rates of chlamydia testing and diagnoses, with only 29% of local authorities reaching the recommended chlamydia detection rate (2,300 diagnoses per 100,000 15- to 24-year-olds per year).

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