Press release

New STI figures show rapid increases among gay men

Annual data for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and national chlamydia screening programme (NCSP) has been released for 2014.

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Latest figures published today (23 June 2015) from Public Health England (PHE) show there were 439,243 sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported in England in 2014.

The impact of STIs remains greatest in young people under the age of 25 years and gay men (gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men).

Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed STI accounting for 47% of diagnoses (206,774 cases), followed by genital warts (70,612 cases). However, the largest proportional increases in diagnoses between 2013 and 2014 were reported for syphilis (33% increase) and gonorrhoea (19% increase).

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at PHE said:

The stats published today show that too many people are getting STIs. Reducing this spread must be a public health priority.

We are particularly concerned about the large rises in diagnoses among gay men. In this group we saw a 46% increase in syphilis and a 32% increase in gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea in particular is becoming harder to treat as new antibiotic resistant strains emerge.

Health promotion and education to increase risk awareness and encourage safer sexual behaviour remain the cornerstones of STI prevention. Ensuring easy access to sexual health services and STI screening is a vital component in the control of STIs. Effective commissioning is critical to improving STI prevention. Prevention work should continue to focus on people in the groups at highest risk of infection, such as young people and gay men.

Young people are routinely offered chlamydia screening but only 14% of young men and 35% of young women were tested in 2014. Wide variation across the country was seen in rates of chlamydia testing and diagnoses – with only 29% of local authorities reaching the recommended chlamydia detection rate (2,300 diagnoses per 100,000 15 to 24 year olds per year).

PHE recommendations

Consistent and correct condom use, reducing the number of sexual partners and the avoidance of overlapping sexual relationships all reduce the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections.

For people in the highest risk groups, getting screened regularly will lead to early diagnosis and treatment, as these infections are frequently without symptoms.

Sexually active under 25 year olds should be screened for chlamydia every year, and on change of sexual partner.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) should have a full HIV and STI screen at least annually or 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.


  1. STI annual data tables are available on the PHE website.
  2. See National chlamydia screening programme (NCSP) data tables.
  3. A summary of the STI and NCSP annual data is available.
  4. Young adults seeking information on chlamydia screening can visit a dedicated 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 men who have sex with men.
  6. PHE has published an action plan to address the health and wellbeing inequalities affecting gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. The plan, the first of its kind from a national body, sets out priorities for developing data and reducing and addressing the wider inequalities, by working with and supporting local and national government, the NHS and relevant third sector organisations.
  7. 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.
  8. Public Health England is a new executive agency of the Department of Health that took up its full responsibilities on 1 April, 2013. 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. To find out more visit our website or follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk.
Published 23 June 2015