Gonorrhoea up by 25%, making a mockery of coalition’s ‘safe sex’ campaign
13th September 2012
Only a day after we reported about the Health Protection Agency (HPA) releasing some worrying insights into what life could be like in the year 2080, Medical Specialists now have to report on more HPA stats to come into the public domain, that show people are still being careless when it comes to their sexual wellbeing. This has sparked a widespread fierce attack of the government’s ‘safe sex’ message to teenagers. The new official data released by the HPA show that cases of gonorrhoea have shot up by 25% in just one year alone, with just under 17,000 new diagnoses of gonorrhoea in 2010 across England, rising to 21,000 in 2011. The majority of the new cases were in relation to homosexual males, however over half of new cases of gonorrhoea (57% to be exact) are in those aged between 15 to 24 years old. The Head of surveillance of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the HPA, Dr Gwenda Hughes, spoke out on the alarming findings and said, “The 25 per cent increase in new gonorrhoea diagnoses in 2011, plus high rates of repeat infection and co-infection with other STIs, shows more must be done to encourage safer sexual behaviour through health promotion and ensuring easy access to sexual health services and screening.” So what exactly is gonorrhoea and who is at risk? Gonorrhoea is an STI that is caused by the bacterium ‘Neisseria gonorrhoeae’ and is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK, after chlamydia. It is caught through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal intercourse or genital contact with somebody else who is infected. A person may show no symptoms of the disease and still pass it on to somebody else unknowingly. In those who do contract the infection, about half of women and some men will not show any symptoms, however the main symptoms in both sexes is a pain when passing urine and some discharge. If left untreated through the use of antibiotics such as Azithromycin, the disease can become serious and even result in women becoming infertile and complications during pregnancy for those women who then do manage to conceive. The importance of using condoms should hopefully hit home with people with the latest figures from the HPA.  This is also after the news last October when it was revealed that there are fears that the gonorrhoea bacteria is developing due to ‘an unusual ability to adapt itself’, and becoming resistant to the widely used antibiotic Cefixime. Due to the evolution of the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Sexual health doctors are now generally instructed to provide patients with a therapy consisting of two treatments. The first is injected and is a stronger version of Cefixime, named ‘Ceftriaxone’. The second treatment is administered orally and is the previously mentioned effective antibiotic Azithromycin. In a released statement, the HPA have advised: “To combat the continuing high rates of STI transmission in England, and the growing risk of gonorrhoea treatment resistance it is essential to always use a condom when having sex with casual and new partners.”