Press release

New STI figures show continued increases among gay men

New sexually transmitted infection figures show continued increases among gay men and sustained high rates in young people.

Packets of red condoms.

Latest figures published today (5 July 2016) from Public Health England (PHE) show there were 434,456 sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported in England in 2015; 54,275 of which were among gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, a 10% increase since 2014. Chlamydia was the most commonly diagnosed STI, accounting for 46% of diagnoses (200,288 cases), followed by genital warts (68,310 cases).

The 2015 statistics represent a small decrease (3%) when compared to 2014. This is primarily due to falls in diagnoses for chlamydia (4%) and genital warts (7%).

However, in the same period there were large increases in diagnoses of gonorrhoea (11%) and syphilis (20%), continuing the rising trends in these infections of the past 5 years. These rises have occurred mostly in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.

The impact of STIs remains greatest in young people under the age of 25 years, and gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. The large fall in genital warts seen this year in young women is an expected positive effect of the national HPV vaccination programme.

Sexual health - Dr Gwenda Hughes

Dr Gwenda Hughes, Head of STI Surveillance at PHE said:

The new statistics show STI rates are still very high among gay men and young adults.

We need to do more to raise awareness about STIs and how they can be prevented, especially the effectiveness of using condoms. We recommend that anyone having sex with a new or casual partner uses condoms and tests regularly for HIV and STIs. It is also vital to ensure there is easy access to STI testing and treatment services that meet the needs of local populations.

Young people are routinely offered chlamydia screening but only 13% of young men and 32% of young women were tested in 2015. The decrease in chlamydia diagnoses in 2015 is mainly due to a reduction in testing despite national recommendations advising young people to get tested every year or on changing partners.

PHE recommends:

  • prevention, focusing on groups at highest risk, including young adults, men who have sex with men and black ethnic minorities
  • consistent and correct use of condoms which can significantly reduce risk of infection
  • rapid access to treatment and notifying any partners who may be affected which can reduce the spread of infection
  • regular testing for HIV and STIs is essential for good sexual health:
    • anyone under 25 who is sexually active should be screened for chlamydia annually, and on change of sexual partner
    • men who have sex with men should test annually for HIV and STIs and every 3 months if having condomless sex with new or casual partners

For more information on sexually transmitted infections and the National Chlamydia Screening Programme data visit the PHE website.

Background

  1. STI annual data tables.
  2. NCSP data tables.
  3. Report of the STI and NCSP annual data.
  4. Young adults seeking information on chlamydia screening can visit the NHS Choices website.
  5. PHE funds HIV Prevention England to undertake campaigns promoting condom use and safer sex targeting the people most at risk including gay, bisexual and other MSM (men who have sex with men).
  6. PHE and a number of local authorities across the country fund an HIV home-sampling service. This service allows those at higher-risk of HIV to order a self-sampling kit and take their own sample in the privacy of their own home, returning the sample to a laboratory for testing. PHE has produced commissioning guidance Making it work: A guide to whole system commissioning for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV. PHE also provides data tools to support commissioning.
  7. PHE works with national and local government, industry and the NHS to protect and improve the nation’s health and support healthier choices and will be addressing inequalities by focusing on removing barriers to good health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk.

Public Health England press office

PHE Colindale
61 Colindale Avenue

London
NW9 5EQ

Published 5 July 2016