5 July 2016 | by Liam Murphy

New stats released today reveals a big increase in STI infections among gay and bisexual men.

Public Health England (PHE) has shown a small decrease in overall STI rates for 2014-2015, however there has been a 21% increase of gonorrhoea (3837 new infections) and 19% in syphilis (656 new infections) among gay and bisexual men. Positive tests have increased by 105% for gonorrhoea and 95% for syphilis since 2012.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at PHE stated: “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.” 

Yusef Azad, NAT’s Director of Strategy, said: “We are failing to meet the sexual health needs of gay and bisexual men.  The 21% increase in gonorrhoea cases and 19% increase in syphilis cases are not out of the blue.  There were serious increases in both infections reported last year, and the year before that.

But instead of investing properly in prevention and sexual health services, the Government made an in-year cut to the public health budget of £200 million last year, and further cuts for the years ahead. 

And 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.

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.”

Ian Howley, Communications Manager for GMFA said, "Although these figures released today are alarming, we must acknowledge that testing for STIs have increased so we should expect a rise. However these figures are showing us that that we must do more work in educating gay and bisexual men in the risk of unprotected anal and oral sex. We also need easier access to testing and treatment for gay and bisexual men who find it difficult to get to a GUM clinic. Decreasing the barriers to sexual health education, testing and treatment can help stop the increase of STI transmission rates."

To read the full PHE report in full, click here.

For more information on gonorrhoea, click here
For more information on syphilis, click here
For more information on other STI, click here
To find your nearest GUM clinic, click here