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.
- 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.
- Get tested regularly
Regular testing helps detect and treat STIs early, preventing further transmission and potential complications.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
Continued reading about the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) “Sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England: 2022 report”
Is there such a thing as testing too early for STIs?
Yes, in fact, if you test too soon after exposure to an STI aka during the “window period”, you may not get an accurate result.
The ‘window period’ is the length of time it can take between catching an infection and when it will show in a test. It’s important to note that if you are tested earlier than the “window period”, some tests may not detect the STI, even though an individual is infected.
The timing of STI testing after potential exposure varies depending on the specific infection. In general, it is best to wait until a sufficient amount of time has passed for the infection to be detectable, but not so long that the infection has already caused damage.
The “window period” for common STIs:
– Antibody tests can be taken 4 weeks after exposure, whilst instant antibody tests are suitable for use 90 days post contact. Early detection RNA tests can be taken from 10 days after potential exposure. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise which test is most suitable for you.
– Antibody tests for syphilis can be detected 12-weeks after a suspected exposure. Symptoms can appear before this so those with symptoms shouldn’t delay testing, as alternative tests can be taken to diagnose.
If you have been exposed to an STI and are concerned about potential infection, it is recommended to have a sexual health consultation at the earliest opportunity. Your healthcare professional will be able to discuss your risk factors, and then advise the appropriate time interval for tests based on the type of test being used. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which test is right for you, and when to get tested. They will discuss this with you during your sexual health consultation.
It is important to note that some STIs, such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), can have no symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. Regular STI testing is the only way to diagnose and treat an infection early, which can prevent complications and reduce the risk of transmission to others.
If you have been sexually active and have concerns about potential STI exposure, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider. They can help you determine the best course of action, including when to get tested and which tests to have.
What STIs can we test for?
Fleet St. Clinic offers testing and treatment for several different STIs including:
– HPV – Genital Warts
Additional tests for symptomatic patients include:
Rapid results are available for most of our STI checks meaning we can provide you with answers on the same day as your tests. Most swabs are analysed within our onsite laboratory so we can provide you with answers as soon as possible.
Remove unnecessary worry by selecting our fastest turnaround times. These vary for each type of STI, so discuss this with your nurse or doctor during your sexual health consultation.
How regularly should I be getting tested?
Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an important part of maintaining sexual health. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to when to get tested, as the frequency and timing of STI testing depend on several factors, including:
1. Sexual behaviour: Individuals who engage in higher-risk sexual behaviours, such as unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, or sexual contact with someone who has an STI, should get tested more frequently.
2. Personal health history: Individuals who have a history of STIs or other health conditions that affect sexual health should get tested more frequently.
3. Age: Young people and older adults may be at higher risk for STIs and should consider getting tested more often.
4. Pregnancy: Pregnant women should be tested for STIs during their first prenatal visit, as well as any other time during their pregnancy as recommended by their healthcare provider.
It is also important to note that some STIs can have no symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. Regular STI testing is the only way to diagnose and treat an infection early, which can prevent complications and reduce the risk of transmission to others.
Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic:
Sexual Health Awareness
We are focusing on Sexual Health Awareness at Fleet Street Clinic this week, to encourage people to talk about their sexual health with health care professionals and help to diagnose and treat STIs.
Did you know:
– More than two-thirds of people have never had an STI test.
– Many people carrying an STI do not display symptoms.
This is why it is worth getting tested, even if you don’t feel that something is wrong. Having an STI check can sometimes make people nervous, but a sexual health appointment with a professional is quick and helps keep your health on track.
Although not everyone presents symptoms, some common complaints in men and women suffering from an STI can be:
- Pain when passing urine
- Itching or burning around the genital area
- Discharge that smells
Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have an STI, but make sure you go to a GP to get checked out and find out the cause.
Health professionals advise to always use condoms to help reduce the chance of STI transmission from intercourse and oral sex.
Sexual Health Advice at Fleet Street Clinic
At Fleet Street Clinic, we provide access to Sexual Health tests and advice from our trained medical professionals.
You can learn more about our sexual health services here.
If you would like a sexual health appointment, you can book online.