UK health officials are reporting an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STI) diagnosed in 2018, with gonorrhea cases showing the largest increase.


Overall, new STI diagnoses in 2018 increased by 5% in comparison to 2017 (from 424,724 to 447,694).

Officials report in 2018, gonorrhea diagnoses rose by 26% from 2017 (from 44,812 in to 56,259). Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (herein known as MSM) are at higher risk and over-represented, with almost half of cases diagnosed in this group. This trend is concerning given the emergence of extensively-drug resistant gonorrhea.

More moderate increases were reported with chlamydia (6%; from 205,365 to 218,095), syphilis (primary, secondary and early latent stages: 5%; from 7,149 to 7,541), and first episode genital herpes (3%; from 32,828 to 33,867) diagnoses.

However, cases of syphilis have more than doubled over the past decade (from 2,847 in 2009 to 7,541 in 2018).

The rise in STIs is likely to be due to people not using condoms correctly and consistently with new and casual partners, and an increase in testing improving detection of the most common STIs.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, Head of STI Surveillance at 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. 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.

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