6, July 2016
British Health officials are warning of a dramatic rise in the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) of syphilis and gonorrhea in the United Kingdom since 2012. New figures published in a report by Public Health England (PHE) on Tuesday revealed that between 2012 and 2015, cases of syphilis rose by 76 percent, from 3,001 to 5,288, while gonorrhea infections had a 53-percent jump from 26,880 to 41,193 cases.
The report said that the diseases are believed to be notably on the rise among homosexual men, with gonorrhea particularly undergoing a 21-percent increase among “gay and bisexual men.” “We need to do more to raise awareness about STIs and how they can be prevented,” said Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at PHE, adding that, “It is also vital to ensure there is easy access to STI testing and treatment services that meet the needs of local populations.”
Hughes recommended regular tests and screening for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and STIs, and the use of protective condoms in sex acts. “These statistics should set alarm bells ringing about the availability of sexual health services for young people and men who have sex with men,” she added.
Natika Halil, the chief executive of the Family Planning Association in Britain, also voiced concern over the alarming situation, saying, “We are concerned by the increased diagnoses rates of gonorrhea and syphilis, particularly among men who have sex with men, and also with the considerable variation between different areas.”
She pointed out to a strong link that exists between poor sexual health, one sign of which is the high rates of STI diagnoses, and higher levels of deprivation. “Local authorities need to pay close attention to what is happening in their area and invest in prevention services to help bring down this still very high number of STIs,” Halil added.
Syphilis and gonorrhea are bacterial infections that can cause heart problems, blindness, paralysis or even death, if left untreated.