Sex diseases on the rise in England

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Cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasing in England, new figures show.

In 2018, there were 447,694 new diagnoses of STIs made, a 5% increase on the 422,147 in 2017.

Gonorrhoea increased the most – by 26% to 56,259 cases. There were 7,541 cases of syphilis – a 5% increase on 2017.

High-risk groups included young heterosexual people, black ethnic minorities, gay people, bisexuals and men who have sex with men.

The most commonly diagnosed STIs were:

  • chlamydia (218,095 cases, 49% of all new STI diagnoses)
  • genital warts (57,318 cases, 13%)
  • gonorrhoea (56,259 cases, 13%)
  • genital herpes (33,867 cases, 8%)


The number of gonorrhoea cases recorded was the largest since 1978. Cases have been increasing for years among both men and women, despite repeated warnings from public health doctors about the risks of unprotected sex.

Sometimes referred to as “the clap”, it is a bacterial infection passed between people through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.

It is not spread by kissing, hugging, toilet seats or sharing baths or towels.

Some people have no symptoms, but can pass it on to their sexual partner.

It can be treated with antibiotics, although there have been recent reports of some cases of hard-to-treat “super gonorrhoea” that are resistant to the usual drugs.

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