A young person in England is diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhoea every four minutes, according to new statistics from Public Health England.
In 2017, there were over 420,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England and chlamydia accounted for nearly half of them, with 200,000 diagnoses. There were also more than 44,000 diagnoses of gonorrhoea.
A large proportion of these STIs were diagnosed in young people aged 15-24, with 63 per cent of chlamydia cases and 37 per cent of gonorrhoea cases diagnosed in this age group.
Dr. Hamish Mohammed, consultant STI scientist at PHE, said: “Young people are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI than people aged 25 and older. STIs present a real threat to young people, and without using condoms, young people are putting themselves and their partners at risk of getting an STI.”
Although infection rates for all STIs have remained consistently high for the past decade, there has been a significant year-on-year increase in certain infections, including gonorrhoea, which saw a 22 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017.
As a result of the diagnosis levels, PHE is launching a ‘Protect Against STIs’ campaign on October 25 to encourage wider use of condoms by the age group most affected to reduce the risk of infections.
The impact of an STI on an individual’s health can be significant but some infections – such as chlamydia – can be symptomless and therefore hard to spot.
TV doctor and GP, Dr Sara Kayat, said that around seven in ten cases of chlamydia in women and around 50 per cent of cases in men, are symptomless.
If left untreated, STIs can cause major health issues, including: pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, swollen or painful testicles and reactive arthritis. In pregnant women STIs can lead to a higher risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
Other STIs such as gonorrhoea are also problematic because they are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics and are at risk of becoming untreatable in the future.
What Are Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Infections?
Although lots of STIs are symptomless, the NHS says that there are some signs to look out for: unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus; pain when peeing; lumps or skin growths around the genitals or anus; rashes; unusual vaginal bleeding; itchy genitals or anus; and blisters or sores around them.
When Should You Go To An STI Clinic?
You should go to a clinic to have yourself checked if you or a sexual partner have symptoms of an STI or you’re worried after having sex without a condom.