The latest figures published today from Public Health England show there were 422,147 STIs reported in England in 2017.

This is down by 0.3% on the year before, when there were 423,352 new STI diagnoses.

Key stats:

  • 20% increase in syphilis from 2016 and a 148% increase on 2008 – and the largest number of syphilis cases since 1949
  • 22% rise in gonorrhoea from 2016
  • 8% decline in chlamydia testing from 2016 and 61% drop in chlamydia testing in sexual and reproductive health services since 2015

Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy and Engagement at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:

‘Today’s stats confirm the number of STIs diagnosed in England remains worryingly high against a backdrop of damaging cuts to sexual health services. Our sexual health services are stretched too thinly and demand outweighs availability, with more cuts already planned.

‘The significant rise in both syphilis and gonorrhoea shows why further cuts are completely unacceptable and would be extremely damaging, particularly given the emergence of a new extensively drug-resistant strain of gonorrhoea.

‘There is a small decline in chlamydia diagnoses, but this isn’t good news as there’s also been an 8% decline in testing for chlamydia. Most worryingly, that includes a 61% drop in chlamydia testing in sexual and reproductive health services in just two years.

‘Young people, those from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, gay and bisexual men, and people living with HIV continue to be the most affected by STIs. More work must be done to ensure people from these groups have access to the information and sexual health services they need to improve and look after their sexual health.

‘The fact that young people continue to be disproportionately affected when it comes to STIs clearly shows a much needed emphasis on sexual health and STIs when relationships and sex education (RSE) becomes compulsory in England from 2019. We want to see sexual health check-ups normalised among young people, and no different to visiting the dentist or doctor.

‘The welcomed decline in HPV-related genital warts is as a result of vaccinating girls against HPV before they become sexually active.

‘In order to make further progress and address the markedly higher rates in boys, we need to see that vaccination programme extended to boys too, in order to drive down rates of preventable cancers later in life.

‘There’s no clear plan for tackling consistently high rates of STIs. The situation needs to improve quickly and learnings from the recent drop in new HIV diagnoses would be a good place to start.

‘We’re calling on local authorities and Government to face up to what’s happening, urgently work together and ensure sexual health services are properly funded to meet local demand.’