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UK: STI Crisis

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    Posted: June 05 2018 at 2:11pm

Fears of ‘super STI’ outbreak as cases of gonorrhoea and syphilis soar by 20% in a year

Health officials fear there could be more cases of drug-resistant gonorrhoea after 44,676 diagnoses of the infection were recorded in 2017

CASES of gonorrhoea and syphilis have soared 20 per cent in the last year, experts have warned.

It comes amid fears a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhoea could spread across the UK.

The first case of "super" gonorrhoea, which cannot be treated with the usual course of antibiotics, struck in Britain earlier this year.

Experts now fear the surge in gonorrhoea cases could lead to more cases of the "super" STI strain.

In The Public Health England (PHE) figures also revealed a 20 per cent year-on-year rise in deadly syphilis – 148 per cent up from 2008 figures.

Cuts to sexual health clinics and services, as well as more gay men having unprotected sex, have been blamed for the rise in the STIs.

Meanwhile, there was a small fall in chlamydia cases and a drop in genital warts too.

In total, there were 422,147 cases of STIs diagnosed in England in 2017, around the same as in 2016.

Debbie Laycock, from sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Today's stats confirm the number of STIs diagnosed in England remains worryingly high against a backdrop of damaging cuts to sexual health services.

“Our sexual health services are stretched too thinly and demand outweighs availability, with more cuts already planned.

“The significant rise in both syphilis and gonorrhoea shows why further cuts are completely unacceptable and would be extremely damaging, particularly given the emergence of a new extensively drug-resistant strain of gonorrhoea.”

Deborah Gold, chief executive of HIV charity NAT, said: "This Government is presiding over a national crisis in sexual health, caused in large part by the decision to implement year-on-year cuts to the public health grant which funds sexual health services.

"We urgently need to ensure that there is parity of esteem between sexual health services and all other healthcare, significantly increase public health funding, improve timely access to high quality sexual health services and increase substantially the numbers of STI tests taken by people at risk."

The report warned that the diagnoses of gonorrhoea in 2017 was of “concern given the recent emergence of extensively drug resistant neisseria gonorrhoeae”.

Earlier this year a Brit bloke was the first to become infected with the drug-resistant strain of gonorrhoea.

He discovered he had the STI after getting tested a month after he returned from Asia.

He told medics he had a regular partner in the UK, but did have "sexual contact" with a woman while he was away.

The man has since been cured after three days of intravenous treatment with antibiotic ertapenem, PHE confirmed.

Two Australians later caught the highly contagious sexually transmitted infection while on holiday in south-east Asia.

The two antibiotics typically used to treat the bug have been powerless to stop the super-strain, health officials warned.

In 2017, the PHE stats show more than 1.3 million chlamydia tests were carried out and over 126,000 chlamydia diagnoses were made among youngsters aged 15 to 24.

There was a 90 per cent reduction in genital wart cases, mainly thanks to a high school immunisation programme, the report said.

Young people aged 15 to 24, black ethnic minorities, and gay and bisexual men remain the most at risk of STIs.

"There is a small decline in chlamydia diagnoses, but this isn't good news as there's also been an eight per cent decline in testing for chlamydia," Mrs Laycock added.

"Most worryingly, that includes a 61 per cent drop in chlamydia testing in sexual and reproductive health services in just two years.

"There's no clear plan for tackling consistently high rates of STIs.

"The situation needs to improve quickly and learnings from the recent drop in new HIV diagnoses would be a good place to start.

"We're calling on local authorities and Government to face up to what's happening, urgently work together and ensure sexual health services are properly funded to meet local demand."

Dr Gwenda Hughes, consultant scientist and head of STI section at PHE, said: "Sexually transmitted infections pose serious consequences to health – both your own and that of your current and future sexual partners.

"The impact of STIs can be considerable, with some causing infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and harm to unborn babies.

"Consistent and correct condom use with new and casual partners is the best defence against STIs, and if you are at risk, regular check-ups are essential to enable early diagnosis and treatment."


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Super gonorrhoea OUTBREAK worsens as new strains emerge – and there is NO CURE

SUPER gonorrhoea has taken hold as seven new strains of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) emerged fuelling fears of an outbreak.

Two completely drug-resistant versions of the venereal disease have been found and identified – with fears rampant unprotected sex could rigger an epidemic.

Doctors have been unable to treat patients with antibiotic ceftriaxone and azithromycin. 

And sufferers have been left with a gonorrhoea – also known as the clap – infection that causes extreme pain during urination.

Australia’s federal government has issued a report warning of the risk of the “continuing threat of antimicrobial resistance by dangerous bacteria”.

Officials added another five strains of gonorrhoea have been found which have “high level resistance” to treatments.

Professor John Turnidge, the senior medical adviser with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, said people need to take more care during sex.

He said: "To prevent sexually transmitted infections, either to yourself or others, it is best to practice safe sex.

"Safe sex includes using a condom or dental dam to ensure that you do not pass an infection on to your partner."

Doctors revealed the seven new gonorrhoea strains in their biannual report for the National Alert System for Critical Antimicrobial Resistance.

The report reads: "The detection of these strains is concerning because of the potential for gonorrhoea to cause a community outbreak of sexually transmitted infections.”

Around 38% of cases of drug resistant infections in Australia are found to be gonorrhoea. 

It said: "For the first time, two extensively drug resistant  gonorrhoeae infections have been reported in Australia, following a report in the United Kingdom of a similar strain

"These infections are unable to be treated with the recommended treatments of ceftriaxone and azithromycin.”

Tourists are feared to be spreading super gonorrhoea after a UK man became the world’s first to be diagnosed with the drug resistant infection after a holiday in Asia.

Gonorrhoea is spread through all forms of sex and can leave women infertile if untreated.

World Health Organisation officials raised concerns two years ago that the STI could become immune to antibiotics in a “matter of years”.

Fears of a super gonorrhoea spread were raised early this year, when two cases were diagnosed in what doctors described as a “shot across the bow”.

More than 78 million people a year are infected with gonorrhoea worldwide, with only chlamydia and genital warts being more common STIs.

And worryingly the infection does not always cause symptoms – so it can regularly go untreated.

Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina are the most common signs and it can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has previously written to GPs warning that gonorrhoea could become an "untreatable disease".

Source and stock photos:

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