Current Affairs

Syphilis is on the rise for gay and bisexual men as STIs remain ‘consistently high’

Jasmine Andersson June 5, 2018
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A selection of unusual condoms are displayed at the Valentine's Condom pop-up shop in east London on February 9, 2016.

New statistics revealed by Public Health England have led the governmental health arm to urge queer men to keep on the lookout for syphilis.

The report, which has collated STI diagnoses across England in 2017, has shown that men who have sex with men are the most likely to be at risk of the STI.

A staggering 78 percent of diagnoses of the infection affected queer men.

A stain of syphilis (Wikimedia)
A stain of syphilis (Wikimedia)

There has also been a sharp spike in syphilis across the board, with 5,955 cases treated in 2016, and 7,137 accounted for in 2017.

Gonorrhoea is also of concern to the authority.

There was a 22 percent rise in cases of gonorrhoea in 2017 compared to 2016 (from 36,577 in 2016 to 44,676 in 2017) and a strain of super gonorrhoea which cannot be treated by antibiotics has made its way into the stats.

 

Gonorrhoea (Wikimedia)
Gonorrhoea (Wikimedia)

The Terence Higgins Trust has said that the rates will continue to rise if the Department of Health continues to receive “damaging cuts” to its sexual health services.

“Today’s stats confirm the number of STIs diagnosed in England remains worryingly high against a backdrop of damaging cuts to sexual health services,” said the Head of Policy and Engagement at Terrence Higgins Trust Debbie Laycock.

“Our sexual health services are stretched too thinly and demand outweighs availability, with more cuts already planned.

 

HIV testing
HIV testing (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

“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,” she added.

However, some STIs are on the decline.

Overall diagnoses are steady, with a similar rate of 422,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to the previous year, reports Public Health England.

And while the HPV vaccine is protecting more women from genital warts, the lack of availability of the vaccine for men is leaving them at risk.

 

Sexual health clinic (Getty Images)

“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,” said Laycock.

“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.”

Related topics: bi men, gay men, gonorrhoea, Health, HIV, men who have sex with men, STIs, syphilis

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