While the overall sexually transmitted infections (STI) reported last year in England saw a decrease, syphilis cases bucked this trend with a 12 percent increase in 2016 compared to 2015.
There were 5,920 diagnoses of syphilis reported in 2016 in England, the most cases reported since 1949.
According to Public health officials, the increase in cases is consistent with the trend seen in recent years. Since 2012, syphilis diagnoses have risen by 97% (from 3,001 to 5,920), mostly associated with transmission in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM).
Nationally, England did much better with other STIs, for example–a 12 percent decrease in gonorrhoea diagnoses and an 8 percent decrease in genital warts.
Of the 417,584 new STI diagnoses in England, nearly half were due to chlamydia (202,546, or 49 percent).
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Public Health England offers the following key messages and recommendations:
- Statutory, high-quality relationship and sex education in secondary schools will equip young people with the skills to improve their sexual health and overall wellbeing
- Strengthened local and national prevention activities need to focus on groups at highest risk, including young adults, black ethnic minorities and MSM
- Consistent and correct use of condoms can significantly reduce risk of STIs
- Rapid, open access to treatment and partner notification can reduce the risk of complications and infection spread
- Regular testing for HIV and STIs is essential for good sexual health:
- Anyone under 25 who is sexually active should be screened for chlamydia annually, and on change of sexual partner
- MSM should test annually for HIV and STIs and every three months if having condomless sex with new or casual partners.
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