STIs: Gonorrhoea and syphilis infections increase in England

09.06.2023 Category: Sexual Health Author: Dr Richard Dawood

New figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) state that England is seeing a significant increase in sexually transmitted infections in the community, specifically gonorrhoea and syphilis which have exceeded pre-Covid figures.

The data demonstrates that testing for STIs has resumed to expected levels, following a dip during the Covid years, however the number of positive results has seen a higher-than-expected increase. The UKHSA states that some of the rise will be due to increased testing, but the scale of the surge strongly suggests a genuine increase in infections in the community.

The number of gonorrhoea diagnoses rose by 50% between 2021 and 2022, with 82,592 cases reported in 2022 alone. Syphilis cases also saw a 15% increase during the same period, reaching 8,692 cases. The cases for Chlamydia and herpes are also on the rise from last year.

These numbers surpass pre-pandemic levels and signal a pressing need for more regular testing.

A snapshot of the data includes:

  • Sexual health screens or tests carried out increased 13% than the previous year
  • Chlamydia was the most diagnosed STI overall
  • Syphilis cases reached the highest in any given year since 1948
  • Gonorrhoea numbers were the highest since annual records began in 1918

Getting tested frequently is key.

Regular sexual health screenings are essential for early detection, especially as many STIs can be asymptomatic.

Getting your results quickly allows for timely treatment and faster recovery. Understanding how quickly a provider can turnaround your results is an important aspect of your research. Turnaround times vary dramatically depending on if your test can be done in-house or sent to an external laboratory.

At Fleet St Clinic, we understand the urgency for quick results. By using our in-clinic laboratory, we can rapidly turnaround results, usually within 2 hours.

We encourage all our patients to prioritise their sexual health and use our confidential sexual health services to ensure they are fit and healthy.

We can test and treat:

How can you protect yourself?

It’s important to take proactive steps to stay sexually healthy and informed.

  1. Practice safe sex

Consistently and correctly using barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, can greatly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies.

  1. Get tested regularly

Regular testing helps detect and treat STIs early, preventing further transmission and potential complications.

  1. Open and honest communication

Effective communication with your sexual partners is key to maintaining a healthy sexual relationship. Discussing topics like STI status, sexual history, and contraception methods fosters mutual understanding and trust.

  1. Stay up to date with vaccinations

Certain vaccinations, such as those for human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B, can protect against STIs and related health issues.

  1. Seek healthcare when needed

Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing complications.

How to book an appointment at Fleet St. Clinic:

Do you have symptoms? Yes.

Don’t panic – It is important to remember that most STIs can be treated with simple medication.

Book a Symptomatic Consultation with one of our GPs.

You can select the sex of your doctor, so you feel at ease to discuss your symptoms and any concerns you have. They will advise which tests are suitable for you to have during your appointment and let you know if you need to come back for any additional tests.
We’ll provide you with results and advise appropriate treatment options.

It is important to know that not everyone has symptoms.

If you don’t have symptoms, you should still get tested regularly as part of your overall health and wellbeing, especially if you have concerns about being exposed to a STI.

Book an Asymptomatic Consultation with one of our nurses.

During this consultation you can discuss any concerns you may have, your recent sexual history and one of our nurses will offer guidance on which tests would be appropriate for you to have.

The timing of STI testing after potential exposure varies depending on the specific infection so you may be advised that you will need to come back for additional tests. If you test too soon after exposure to an STI aka during the “window period”, you may not get an accurate result.

Results from all testing are discreet and timely and if anything is detected, all treatment options will be explained to you clearly and sympathetically.

By prioritising sexual health and seeking timely testing and treatment, you can mitigate the impact of STIs and reduce the infection risk in the community.

Please note: This post is for informational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice. Please book an appointment with a healthcare provider if you have any sexual health concerns.


Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic

Sexual Health Testing Services

Genital Warts Removal


Continued reading about the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) “Sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England: 2022 report”

Read the full report by UKHSA here

Read: Gonorrhoea and syphilis sex infections reach record levels in England

Sexual health “window period” and why is it important?

Read more