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Shock rise in Gonorrhoea in Newham but overall sexual transmitted infections are down

PUBLISHED: 14:00 18 June 2019

Newham has narrowly escapes worst rise sexual diseases in 40 years. Picture: Niall Carson

Newham has narrowly escapes worst rise sexual diseases in 40 years. Picture: Niall Carson

PA Archive/PA Images

Hundreds more cases of gonorrhoea have been reported by Newham health officials—despite overall sexual diseases and infections falling.

Latest figures show 823 new cases of gonorrhoea reported in 2018, an increase of 33 cases from the previous year, the biggest rise in 40 years.

But Newham bucked the national trend in rising numbers of people affected by all forms of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

There were 3,425 diagnosed with infections in 2018, compared to 3,522 the previous year.

"Gonorrhoea is a marker of unprotected sex," the British Association for Sexual Health's Dr Mark Lawton warned.

"This is at a time of cuts to funding of sexual health services, affecting access to testing and treatment and creating a 'perfect storm'.

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"The use of dating apps is likely to be contributing to the increase of sexual transmission diseases, along with general changes in attitudes to sex."

The number of new cases of all transmitted diseases nationally increased by seven per cent, according to Public Health England, against a background of public budget cuts in sexual health services.

The trend in gonorrhoea cases saw a rise by a quarter across the country, the biggest increase since 1978, with 54,198 cases reported, as well as 7,287 cases of syphilis.

The trend is being linked to new sexual habits and the use of dating apps.

The Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity working on HIV and other prevention at its centres such as Olympic House in Clements Road, Ilford, is calling for urgent government action.

The charity's head of policy Debbie Laycock said: "Rates of syphilis and gonorrhoea are soaring, with increases in the numbers attending sexual health clinics, while £700 million has been stripped from public health budgets in the last five years.

"Progress in tackling rates of chlamydia has been sharply halted, with the rising trend in sexually transmitted diseases against continued decline in tests being carried out."

The trend risks "widening health inequalities" faced by certain groups, the charity points out, with the example of gay and bisexual men accounting for 75 per cent of new syphilis cases.

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