The rate of gonorrhea among gay men in England is on the rise.
Public Health England released new data that revealed that 13,570 men in this demographic were diagnosed with gonorrhea in 2013. This number is a 26 percent spike from the previous year and is nearly double the national rate in England.
The report noted this rise to be of “particular concern,” since some strains of the disease have grown resistant to treatment. In men, gonorrhea typically causes a burning sensation or discharge in genitalia. Left untreated, the disease could spread throughout the body to cause more serious harm to the joints and heart.
Gay men also accounted for 81 percent of syphilis infections diagnosed at sexual health clinics last year. Dr. Catherine Lowndes, a PHE scientist, says the rise in diagnoses may be attributed to the increased screenings of sexually transmitted diseases as well as improvements in the reporting of sexual orientation. But the numbers are still cause for concern.
“Sustained efforts to encourage people to regularly get checked for STIs means we are now finding and treating more infections, which is good news,” Lowndes noted in the report. “Nevertheless these data show too many people are still getting STIs each year, especially young adults and gay men.”
PHE recommends that high-risk groups like gay men and sexually active people under 25 get regularly tested for STDs in order to receive early treatment and prevent the infection of others. Among these demographics, screenings for chlymydia should be scheduled each year, and screenings for HIV should be scheduled every three months.