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Government urges people to get STI tests as gonorrhoea cases hit record high

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned cases are up by 21% on 2019, previously the highest year for infection rates.

Between January and September 2022, 56,327 cases were logged across the country, compared to 46,541 recorded in the same period in 2019.

The data also indicates that gonorrhoea spread faster over the first nine months of 2022 than over the same period in the last three years.

Dr Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, described the spike as an ‘important reminder of the importance of testing for STIs,’ and called on anyone with new or multiple sexual partners to do so at least once a year.

The UKHSA claim the rise is largely driven by the 15 to 24 demographic, ‘due to more frequent changes in sexual partners’ after pandemic restrictions ended.

Gonorrhoea is of particular concern, as although it can be easily treated with an antibiotic injection, it’s often symptomless, and without treatment it can spread to other parts of the body.

If it’s not dealt with, it can cause conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and affect fertility.

Additionally, antibiotic-resistant strains of the infection – caused by the bacteria neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus – have been identified in growing numbers.

So-called super gonorrhoea does not respond to traditional treatment, meaning condom use and regular testing are especially important to detect issues early.

Dr Katy Sinka, consultant epidemiologist and head of the STI section at the UKHSA, said: ‘Condoms aren’t just about preventing unwanted pregnancy; they are the main defence against STIs. 

‘If you have had condomless sex with a new or casual partner, it is even more important to get tested to detect any potential infections early and prevent passing them on to others.’

Source of data and images: metro

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