A spokesman for PHE said this rise contributed to an overall increase of 5% in new sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses in 2019 (from 447,522 in 2018 to 468,342).
Between 2018 and 2019, increases in gonorrhoea were reported in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from 26,864 to 33,853 (26% increase). Heterosexual women from 14,167 to 17,826 (26% increase) and heterosexual men from 13,036 to 15,253 (17% increase)
Dr Hamish Mohammed, national lead for Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance at Public Health England, said the rise in diagnoses of gonorrhoea is explained in part by an increase in testing, using more accurate diagnostic tests and more comprehensive data on STI diagnoses.
‘The considerable rise of gonorrhoea cases in England, as well as the continued rise of other STIs, is concerning. It is important to emphasise that STIs can pose serious consequences to health – both your own and that of current and future sexual partners.
‘We have seen that gonorrhoea has become more resistant to antibiotics and expect to see further cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea in the future, which will be challenging for healthcare professionals to manage.
‘The consistent and correct use of condoms with new and casual sexual partners is the best defence against all STIs. If you have had sex without a condom with a new or casual partner, you should get tested.’
A PHE spokesman said cases of syphilis have increased by 10% from 2018 with 7,982 cases being reported in 2019.
With 229,411 cases diagnosed in 2019, chlamydia increased by 5% since 2018 and remains the most commonly diagnosed STI.
In 2019, more than 1.3m chlamydia tests were carried out in England among young people aged 15 to 24 years as part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP).
The spokesman said, across all STIs, the highest rates of diagnoses continue to be seen in 15- to 24-year-olds, MSM and some minority ethnic groups.
This is likely due, in part, to higher rates of partner change and/or more concurrent sexual partnerships without consistent condom use, and in some MSM there is evidence of increased transmission of STIs due to ‘chemsex’.
Health bosses say the number of consultations at sexual health services (SHSs), in clinic settings and online, increased by 7% between 2018 and 2019 (from 3,613,447 to 3,852,121).
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.
Those at risk of STIs can still access services through sexual health clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many clinics offer online testing, which means people can order tests using clinic websites, take them in the privacy of their own home and send kits off to a laboratory for testing, and receive results via text, phone call or post.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.