New figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have shown that some sexually transmitted infections are at their highest since records began in 1918.
Gonorrhoea diagnoses rose to 82,592 in 2022, representing an increase of 50.3% compared to 2021 and the highest in any one year since records began in 1918. Syphilis diagnoses, meanwhile, increased to 8,692 – the largest annual number since 1948. Chlamydia diagnoses increased by 24.3% from 160,279 diagnoses in 2021 to 199,233 in 2022. This includes 68,882 chlamydia diagnoses among people aged 15-24.
More broadly, there were 392,453 new STIs detected among residents in England last year, a yearly increase of nearly a quarter. It follows an uptick in cases in 2021, as numbers rebounded following the COVID pandemic which brought a drop-off in STIs due to lockdowns imposed during much of 2020.
The UKHSA said people aged 15 to 24 are most likely to be diagnosed with STIs as it urged those who are having sex with new or causal partners to wear a condom and get tested regularly.
Dr Hamish Mohammed, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said;
“We saw more gonorrhoea diagnoses in 2022 than ever before, with large rises, particularly in young people. STIs aren’t just an inconvenience – they can have a major impact on your health and that of any sexual partners.
“Condoms are the best defence, but if you didn’t use one the last time you had sex with a new or casual partner, get tested to detect any potential infections early and prevent passing them on to others. Testing is important because you may not have any symptoms of an STI.”
Among those aged between 15 and 34, around 45 per cent of cases involved gay and bisexual men, with 33 per cent of cases involving heterosexual men and 22 per cent involving heterosexual women, the figures show.
Officials advise tests at least once a year for sexually transmitted infections and HIV for anyone having sex without a condom, with new or casual partners.
Gay and bisexual men are advised to have tests for HIV and sexually transmitted infections every three months if having condomless sex with new or casual partners.