PHE warns of surge in cases of gonorrhoea

A new report by Public Health England (PHE) shows the number of annual gonorrhoea diagnoses rose 26% between 2018 and 2019 (from 56,232 to 70,936).

The data outlined in the Sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England 2019 report has prompted health officials to warn of the need to practise safe sex, including correct condom use.

This rise contributed to an overall increase of 5% in new sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses in 2019 (from 447,522 in 2018 to 468,342). Between 2018 and 2019, increases in gonorrhoea were reported in:

  • gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from 26,864 to 33,853 (26% increase)
  • heterosexual women from 14,167 to 17,826 (26% increase)
  • heterosexual men from 13,036 to 15,253 (17% increase)

The rise in diagnoses of gonorrhoea is explained in part by an increase in testing, using more accurate diagnostic tests and more comprehensive data on STI diagnoses.

Dr Hamish Mohammed, National Lead for Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance at Public Health England, said: “The considerable rise of gonorrhoea cases in England, as well as the continued rise of other STIs, is concerning. It is important to emphasise that STIs can pose serious consequences to health. We have seen that gonorrhoea has become more resistant to antibiotics and expect to see further cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea in the future, which will be challenging for healthcare professionals to manage."