New cases of gonorrhoea rose by 25% in the UK in 2011. A report published by the HPA shows that gonorrhoea is now the second most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the UK behind Chlamydia. There were 20,965 new cases in 2011.
Gonorrhoea is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics and health experts predict that new drugs will need to be found to continue to treat the infection.
Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at the HPA, said: “We anticipated some increase in diagnoses due to improvements in testing in recent years, but not on the scale seen here,” she said. “Too many people are putting themselves at risk of STIs and serious health problems by having unsafe sex.”
If left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause serious abdominal pain, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and can lead to infertility in women.
Sexual health campaigners are worried that as the responsibility for sexual health testing moves from the NHS to local authourities, fewer people will go for testing, increasing the prevalence of STIs.
“These figures are a salutary lesson,” said Lisa Power, policy director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading sexual health charity. “Sexual health services have had a much lower profile in recent years and it’s demonstrable what happens when you let up on informing the public about the risks. We’ve been working hard with local authorities and our experience is that the services on offer will incredibly variable. There will be a postcode lottery for sexual health unless services are improved across the board.”
Better2Know can test for gonorrhoea from 14 days after any potential exposure with a urine sample. The results are available just 2 days after the sample is received in the laboratory.