Gonorrhoea cases jump 25pc in a year
Cases of gonorrhoea have jumped by 25 per cent in onee year, new official figures show- prompting criticism of the Government’s ‘safe sex’ message for teenagers.The new statistics from the Health Protection Agency show there were almost 21,000 new diagnoses of the disease in England in 2011, up from just under 17,000 in 2010.
Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of surveillance of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the HPA, said the figures showed that “more must be done to encourage safer sexual behaviour through health promotion and ensuring easy access to sexual health services and screening.”
Most new cases are in gay men but, amongst heterosexuals, more than half of new cases of gonorrhoea (57 per cent) are in 15-to-24-year-olds, HPA figures show.
At the moment gonorrhoea – which can lead to infertility in women, and pregnancy complications in those who do get pregnant – is the second most common bacterial STI in Britain, after chlamydia, which is far more widespread.
In a statement the HPA also advised: “To combat the continuing high rates of STI transmission in England, and the growing risk of gonorrhoea treatment resistance it is essential to always use a condom when having sex with casual and new partners.”
But Professor David Paton, of Nottingham University, a long-standing critic of successive governments’ safe sex policies, said the HPA’s advice failed to mention that having lots of sexual partners was a risk in itself.
He said: “The advice says nothing about reducing the number of sexual partners or the dangers of having sex at too early an age. It implies that, as long as you use a condom, it’s ok. But having lots of sexual partners is a high risk activity in itself.”
He argued this was flawed because condoms sometimes failed.
Peter Greenhouse, a consultant in sexual health and spokesman for the British Association for Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH), said gonorrhoea was “highly concentrated” in certain populations in Britain – particularly gay men.
He warned that resistance to a new antibiotic called ceftriaxone was growing so fast that “in five years we are going to be in real trouble”.
Tags: Doctors, Health, Hygiene, pregnancy, preventable crisis, Quangos, Sexual health