5th July 2016
“We are failing to meet the sexual health needs of gay and bisexual men.”
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are continuing to rise among gay and bisexual men, new figures have shown.
New data published by Public Health England today (July 5) show that of the 434,456 STIs reported in England in 2015, 54,275 were among men who have sex with men (MSMs) – a rise of 10% since 2014.
Chlamydia was the most commonly diagnosed STI last year, accounting for 46% of diagnoses (200,288 cases), followed by genital warts (68,310 cases).
While overall figures for STI diagnoses fell by 3% in 2015 in the same period, there were large increases in diagnoses of gonorrhoea (11%) and syphilis (20%) – rises which Public Health England say occurred mostly among gay and bisexual men.
Dr Gwenda Hughes, Head of STI Surveillance at PHE said: “The new statistics show STI rates are still very high among gay men and young adults. We need to do more to raise awareness about STIs and how they can be prevented, especially the effectiveness of using condoms.
“We recommend that anyone having sex with a new or casual partner uses condoms and tests regularly for HIV and STIs. It is also vital to ensure there is easy access to STI testing and treatment services that meet the needs of local populations.”
Responding to the figures, Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy at the National AIDs Trust accused the government of failing to meet the sexual health needs of gay and bisexual men, and again attacked NHS England’s recent decision not to fund a wide-scale role out of HIV-preventing pre-exposure prophylaxis medication (PrEP).
“Instead of educating young gay and bisexual men about how to look after their sexual health, the Government has rejected the calls of experts to provide statutory sex and relationships education to all young people,” he said in a statement.
“Gay and bisexual men being diagnosed with STIs are precisely the group who need to have access to PrEP, which the Government has also failed to provide.
“Starting PrEP wouldn’t just be taking a pill. Offering this game-changing prevention technology to the most at-risk gay men would also they are treated early for STIs and supported in safer sex, so reducing STI transmission rates.”