Gonorrhoea cases have resurged in England since the easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in 2021.
Provisional data published today indicates that gonorrhoea diagnoses from January to September 2022 were 21% higher than those reported over the same period in 2019.
Data also indicates that during the first 9 months of 2022, gonorrhoea cases were higher than those reported over the same period in each of the last 3 years.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is reminding people to wear a condom and get tested regularly if having sex with new or casual partners.
Testing is free and discreet, and you should get tested even if you are not showing any symptoms.
Young people aged 15 to 24 years remain most likely to be diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) due to more frequent changes in sexual partners.
The data shows that the total number of gonorrhoea diagnoses from January to September 2022 (56,327) was 21% higher when compared to the same period in 2019 (46,541), the year when the highest number of diagnoses was reported.
Though STIs are usually easily treated with antibiotics, some STIs, including gonorrhoea, can have serious consequences as they can cause serious health issues such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Typical symptoms of gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating, pain and discomfort in the rectum and, in women and other people with a uterus or ovaries, lower abdominal pain and bleeding between periods.
People infected with gonorrhoea will often have no symptoms, especially for infections in the throat, vagina or rectum.
This lack of symptoms makes it important to test regularly when having sex with new or casual partners.
Dr Katy Sinka, Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of the STI section at UKHSA, emphasized that condoms are not 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.
Dr Thomas Waite, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health and Social Care, highlighted the importance of safe sex and regular testing to keep people and their sexual partners safe.
Condoms and early detection are absolutely fundamental in preventing and addressing the rise in cases we are currently seeing of gonorrhoea. Cases can be diagnosed easily and treated with antibiotics.
Testing is simple – samples are quick to take, can be collected at home, and sent off by post for analysis, making early detection accessible to everyone.
Dr Claire Dewsnap, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said that the rise in gonorrhoea cases provides an important reminder of the importance of testing for STIs and wearing a condom every time you have sex.
By getting tested at least once a year, regardless of whether you’re showing symptoms, you can help minimize the risk of catching or passing on STIs when having sex.
Delaying access to the right care and treatment also risks developing longer-term problems that can be more difficult to address.
Previously, we have seen cases of gonorrhoea with resistance to ceftriaxone, the main antibiotic used to treat the infection.
While these ceftriaxone-resistant cases remain rare, it is a reminder to all people having condomless sex with new or casual partners to get tested regularly at sexual health services to ensure prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.»Gonorrhoea Cases Surge in England Following COVID-19 Restrictions Easing«