Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in London according to the latest statistics released by Public Health England, which show a worrying spike in gonorrhoea cases in Lambeth.
The total number of all STIs reported across England was 439,243 – a drop of 0.3% – but rates rose by an alarming 5% in London.
Of the 32 boroughs, Lambeth secured the dubious honour of the highest number of cases of gonorrhoea, with a diagnosis rate of 553 cases per 100,000 people – more than 10 times the national average.
Lambeth and Wandsworth’s 16-25 year olds also recorded high rates of chlamydia, the country’s most common STI, which can cause infertility.
Across the country as a whole, there was a surprising 33% increase in syphilis cases, and an overall 19% increase in rates of gonorrhoea.
Sue Burchill, head of nursing at young people’s health and wellbeing charity Brook, said: “The latest STI statistics underline how important it is for us to invest in education and prevention programmes for young people.
“We also need to raise young people’s awareness of the free testing and treatment for STIs provided by Brook and by other sexual health clinics.
“Some areas have put a lot of effort into tackling STIs, and are now seeing the benefit of this.
“We know that every £1 spent on contraception and sexual health saves the public purse £12.50, meaning cuts now will lead to a huge cost – both financial and in health and wellbeing terms – later on.
“The rise in cases of syphilis is eye-catching, but it’s important to remember that it is starting from a low base, and is a relatively small number overall.
“The upward trend in gonorrhoea is very concerning, especially as drug resistant forms are becoming more common. However, we can’t afford to be complacent and would urge anyone who has had unprotected sex to get a free check-up as soon as possible.”
Ms Burchill also said she would like to see STI statistics put into context in young people’s sex education, so they are aware of the implications in terms of their lives and relationships.
She added: “Sex and relationships education should equip young people with the tools they need to negotiate use of protection with partners, and build their self-confidence.”
Image courtesy of Kerry J, with thanks