A young person is diagnosed with an STI every four minutes in England, new figures reveal.
Around 144,000 people aged between 15 and 24 who were told they had chlamydia or gonorrhea in 2016/17.
Public Health England, which collects the figures, then calculated this to be broken down into different time frames.
In the Government body’s analysis, it revealed around 15 young people were being told they had either STI every hour.
Around 144,000 people aged between 15 and 24 who were told they had chlamydia or gonorrhea in 2016/17
The age group accounted for 63 per cent of all chlamydia cases and 37 per cent of gonorrhoea incidences.
Untreated, they can cause everything from infertility and swollen testicles to arthritis and even miscarriages or stillbirths in pregnant women.
Overall, 422,147 people of all ages were told they had an STI in England last year, according to the PHE statistics.
Of which, chlamydia made up nearly half of cases at 200,000 and gonorrhoea more than 44,000.
‘Young people are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI than people aged 25 and older,’ Dr Hamish Mohammed, consultant STI scientist at PHE, said.
WHAT IS GONORRHOEA?
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus.
This bacteria is usually found in discharge from the penis or vaginal fluid.
It is passed through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, as well as sharing vibrators or sex toys that have been used without a condom.
The bacteria can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, throat or eyes.
It can also spread from pregnant women to their unborn babies.
As the bacteria cannot survive outside the body for long, gonorrhoea is not spread by kissing, hugging, sharing towels, toilet seats or swimming.
Around one in 10 men and half of women experience no symptoms.
However, these can include:
- Thick green or yellow discharge from the genitals
- Pain when urinating
- Bleeding between periods in women
Treatment is usually a single antibiotic injection and tablet.
Gonorrhoea can be prevented by using condoms during sex and not sharing sex toys.
Source: NHS Choices
‘STIs present a real threat to young people, and without using condoms, young people are putting themselves and their partners at risk of getting an STI.’
STIs are also on the rise, with gonorrhoea diagnoses increasing by 22 per cent from 2016 to 2017 in England.
The ‘Victorian disease’ syphilis, which can be life-threatening if it damages the brain, heart or nervous system, also rose by 20 per cent last year.
The only STI to go down was genital warts, which affected 90 per cent fewer 15 to 17 year old girls for the first time in 2017 compared to 2009.
Most STIs, including chlamydia, are symptomless. While gonorrhoea can cause a watery vaginal discharge.
The common STI is increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics and is at risk of becoming untreatable.
Earlier this year, the ‘worst ever case’ of super gonorrhoea was diagnosed in a Briton who picked up the infection while on holiday in south east Asia.
The STI did not respond to the go-to drugs, forcing the patient to have a three-day antibiotic infusion in hospital.
On the back of its new analysis, PHE has launched a ‘Protect Against STIs’ campaign to highlight the importance of condoms.
Reduced condom use among young people has been put down to them growing up during a time when HIV is not considered a death sentence.
Sex education may also focus more on avoiding pregnancy than protecting against STIs.
As part of the campaign, PHE surveyed young people, which revealed more than half have had sex with a new partner without a condom.
WORLD’S WORST CASE OF GONORRHOEA WAS CURED WITH A LAST-DITCH ANTIBIOTIC
An Englishman who caught the ‘world’s worst’ case of super-gonorrhoea was cured in April 2018 with a last-ditch antibiotic.
In the first recorded case worldwide, the unidentified man caught a version of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) that was resistant to two crucial drugs.
Health officials revealed he caught it from a one-night stand with a woman during his travels to south east Asia earlier this year – despite having a girlfriend in the UK.
Public Health England (PHE) issued a warning over the the STI, which is resistant to ceftriaxone and azithromycin – the two drugs recommended for gonorrhoea.
In a statement, the Government agency revealed the man – whose location has also been withheld – was cured with the antibiotics ertapenem.
Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STIs at PHE, said: ‘We are pleased to report the case of multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea has been successfully treated.
‘Investigations have also revealed there has been no further spread of this infection within the UK.’
Dr Hughes did warn that ‘we expect to see further cases of multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea in the future’.
World Health Organization (WHO) experts raised fears two years ago the STI, once known as the ‘clap’, could become immune to antibiotics in a ‘matter of years’.
The WHO recommends patients are given ceftriaxone and azithromycin to combat gonorrhoea, the third most common STI in Britain.
Officials said: ‘This is the first global report of high-level azithromycin resistant N. gonorrhoeae which is also resistant to ceftriaxone.’