News

Cases of syphilis in England at highest level since 1949, new figures show

Cases have risen by 97% since 2012.
Syphilis

Cases of syphilis have reached their highest level for nearly 70 years, according to figures from Public Health England (PHE).

Diagnoses of the bacterial infection in England have risen by 97% since 2012, with 5,920 cases in 2016 compared with 3,001 four years earlier.

PHE data shows that cases were mostly associated with transmission in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.

During 2016 there were 420,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England, a decline of 4% compared with 2015, according to the PHE data.

It said the impact of STIs remains greatest in heterosexuals aged 15 to 24, black and ethnic minorities, and gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.

Unacceptable rates

Terrence Higgins Trust medical director Michael Brady warned that the figures showed unacceptably high rates of STIs.

Cases of syphilis have reached their highest level for nearly 70 years, according to figures from Public Health England (PHE).


Picture: iStock

Diagnoses of the bacterial infection in England have risen by 97% since 2012, with 5,920 cases in 2016 compared with 3,001 four years earlier.

PHE data shows that cases were mostly associated with transmission in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.

During 2016 there were 420,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England, a decline of 4% compared with 2015, according to the PHE data.

It said the impact of STIs remains greatest in heterosexuals aged 15 to 24, black and ethnic minorities, and gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.

Unacceptable rates

Terrence Higgins Trust medical director Michael Brady warned that the figures showed ‘unacceptably high’ rates of STIs.

He said: ‘In this climate of cuts to local authorities' public health budgets, this is particularly concerning. Now is not the time to be scaling back sexual health services.

‘It is also essential that PHE, the Department of Health and local authorities ensure improved access to effective STI and HIV testing, treatment and prevention services.’

Sex education

In February, the RCN backed a call by the Local Government Association (LGA) for compulsory sex and relationship education for secondary school pupils.

The college also suggested urgent investment in school nursing to tackle the issue.

The LGA, which represents local councils, raised concerns about the number of STI diagnoses rising once people have left school, with 141,060 new diagnoses for 20-24 year olds in 2015, compared with 78,066 for those aged 15-19.


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