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Public health funding cuts criticised as cases of gonorrhoea and syphilis rise

Public health funding cuts criticised as cases of gonorrhoea and syphilis rise

Public health experts have called for more investment into sexual health services after figures showed concerning rises in gonorrhoea and syphilis in England.

Figures from the UK Health Security Agency showed a 4.7% overall rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI) in 2023 to 401,800 compared with 383,789 the previous year.

But gonorrhoea cases increased 7.5% to 85,223 diagnoses last year and infectious syphilis increased by 9.4% to 9,513, the figures showed. It was the largest ever recorded number of cases for both infections.

The biggest increase in syphilis diagnoses was seen in heterosexual men and women with a rise of almost 22% on the previous year.

Chlamydia diagnoses remained relatively steady, the UKHSA annual report said.

It follows reports from European health officials of troubling rises in STIs across the continent where surges in gonorrhoea and syphilis had also been seen.

in November, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended UK vaccination programmes for prevention of both gonorrhoea and mpox. 

Dr Hamish Mohammed, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: ‘STIs can have a major impact on your health regardless of your age, gender or sexual orientation.

‘The best way to reduce your risk of an infection is to use a condom consistently and correctly with new or casual partners.

‘The NHS provides free, confidential STI testing to detect any potential infections and prevent you passing them on to others.’

Alice Wiseman, vice president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said the Public Health Grant, which funds local sexual health services, had been subject to cuts of over a quarter on a real-terms per person basis over the past decade.

‘At the same time, we are seeing demand for sexual health services at an all time high, and rates of STIs increasing.

‘Investment in public health is key to improving the health of the UK.

‘Whoever forms the next Government must address this issue as a matter of urgency or we will just continue to see rates rise – it is simply unsustainable.’

Professor Matt Phillips, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: ‘Levels of both gonorrhoea and syphilis continue to rise which is a real concern to sexual health experts.

‘Both infections require expert management in specific clinics, and it is of paramount importance that access to clinics and the experts there is quick and easy for anyone needing care.

‘There have been significant cuts across England to the Public Health Grant which local authorities use to pay for sexual health services in their areas, and it will be vital to see increased funding to clinics to enable them to support their users well.’


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 9 June, 2024 9:09 am

Yet another clear example of how capitalism ignores and contradicts to our disadvantage the scientifically proven fact that caring about others reduces the risk of catching something nasty for an individual. Man is not an island, and must reject the Tory rhetoric that he is.