Cases of gonorrhoea up 26% for gay men in England

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New data from Public Health England (PHE) shows a significant rise in cases of gonorrhoea among gay and bisexual men.

Gonorrhoea diagnoses rose 26% in this group, nearly double the national rate in 2013, from 10,764 to 13,570.

Public Health England says it is a particular concern as certain strains of gonorrhoea are becoming more resistant to antibiotics.

Rates of chlamydia, genital herpes and genital warts are also up.

Gay men accounted for 81% of syphilis (2,393) and 63% of gonorrhoea (13,570) cases in male GUM clinic attendees last year.

The number of diagnoses of STIs reported in gay men has risen sharply in recent years, some of it is due to increased testing, but PHE also notes “that ongoing high levels of unsafe sex are leading to more STI transmission in this population”.

Dr Catherine Lowndes, consultant scientist in PHE’s STI surveillance team, said: “Sustained efforts to encourage people to regularly get checked for STIs means we are now finding and treating more infections – which is good news. Nevertheless these data show too many people are still getting STIs each year, especially young adults and gay men.

“Investment in promoting good sexual health awareness, contraception and condom use, and STI testing is vital, as is ongoing investment in easy to access sexual health services that meet the needs of local populations. Not only will this help bring down STI rates but abortion rates and under 18 conceptions as well.”

This summer, PHE will publish a strategic framework to promote the health and well-being of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.