Northern Ireland news

New STI stats reveal syphilis and gonorrhoea on rise

New STI statistics have revealed a rise in several types of infection

THERE has been an increase in the number of new Sexually Transmitted Infections, figures show.

Statistics published by the Public Health Agency (PHA) detail diagnoses made in Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) clinics in Northern Ireland.

In particular, there has been an increase in diagnoses of gonorrhoea and infectious syphilis.

New diagnoses of chlamydia increased by 6 per cent - 1,787 in 2018 compared with 1,684 in 2017.

There was a 30 per cent rise in cases of gonorrhoea and syphilis increased by 72 per cent, although numbers remain low - there were 86 cases.

The decline in diagnostic rates from 2011 has been greatest in females aged 16-19 years (71 per cent) and in males in the same age group (49 per cent).

Dr Claire Neill, Specialist Registrar with the PHA, said people with STIs did not always have symptoms.

"It is also important to take steps to reduce the risk of harm to yourself and others if there's a chance you have contracted an STI. There are GUM clinics across Northern Ireland, so if you are at risk, make sure you attend one of these clinics to get checked out for free," she said.

"The trend in gonorrhoea is particularly concerning. As with elsewhere in the UK, we are seeing increasing levels of antibiotic resistance and this has led to a recent change in treatment guidelines for this infection. There is a real risk that antibiotic options will become less effective in the future, so it's really important that we take steps to protect ourselves from becoming infected in the first place and reduce the potential for spreading gonorrhoea."

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