There has been an explosion in rates of gonorrhea and syphilis since 2017 in more than two thirds of local council areas.

It comes as sexual health services are said to be reaching breaking point. New figures show that almost all – 97% – of council areas saw an increase in diagnoses rates of gonnorrhea.

Ten local authority areas have seen triple. The largest increase, reports The Daily Star, came in Wigan, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Torbay.

The highest rates of diagnoses was in the London borough of Lambeth, with 1,221 cases per 100,000 people, with the top 10 being made up of inner London boroughs. There has been a syphilis spike in 71% of areas.

The largest increases were seen in Middlesbrough, the Isle of Wight, Darlington and Redcar & Cleveland. More than a third (36%) of local authority areas have also seen increases in detections of chlamydia.

The Local Government Association is calling on the Government to provide extra funding so local sexual health clinics can meet rising demand and publish a long-term plan to help prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections.

Demand for sexual health services has continued to grow. Almost 4.5 million consultations were carried out in 2022, up by a third since 2013

In 2022 there were 2.2 million diagnostic tests carried out, a 13% increase from the year before. Although some of the rise has been attributed to increased diagnostic testing, and the ongoing work of councils to improve access to services and make it easier for people to get tested regularly, the scale suggests a higher number of infections in the community.

However an increase in demand has seen a reduction in funding. Analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA) found that, between 2015 and 2024, the public health grant received by councils has been reduced in real terms by £880million (based on 2022/23 prices).

The result is a reduction in councils’ ability to spend on STI testing, contraception and treatment. The LGA said the Government needs to urgently publish 2024/25 public health grant allocations for councils which provide an increase in funding to cover these pressures.

Councils and local health commissioners are calling for the Government to publish a new 10-year sexual and reproductive health strategy to help prevent and treat infections in the long term.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “These statistics show that local sexual health services are grappling with unprecedented increases in demand. The Government needs to ensure sexual health funding is increased to levels which matches these stark increases.

“Councils have been working hard to encourage more people to access sexual health services and get tested more regularly to help improve detection rates and catch infections early.

“Investment in sexual health services helps to prevent longer term illness and unwanted pregnancies, reducing pressure on our NHS and improving the health of people across our communities.”

Dr Claire Dewsnap, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH): “This data not only demonstrates the deeply concerning trajectory of STI infection growth but also the need for a robust national strategy, backed up by adequate funding. As demand for care increases, without imminent action, we compromise our ability to safeguard the sexual health of our nation.”

This data was collected by the Office of Health Disparities and published as a rate per 1,000 residents, on the LGA’s data platform LG Inform.

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