More sexually transmitted infections being diagnosed in Shropshire
More sexually transmitted infections are being diagnosed in Shropshire, new data reveals.
Health experts have put the trend down to new sexual habits linked to the use of dating apps, as well as public budget cuts in sexual health services.
Figures show that 730 people in the Shropshire Council area were diagnosed with an STI in 2018, compared to 631 the previous year.
In Telford & Wrekin 678 people were diagnosed with an STI last year, compared to 566 in 2017.
In Shropshire it means there is a rate of 380 people being diagnosed with a new infection per 100,000 residents aged 15 to 64 in the area, the lowest across England.
For Telford & Wrekin 604 people are diagnosed with a new infection per 100,000 residents in the same category.
The average for England is 851.
The figures include new STIs diagnosed by sexual health services, excluding chlamydia in under 25s.
There were 98 new cases of gonorrhoea in Shropshire, up from 67 the previous year. A further 22 cases were related to syphilis, seven more than in 2017.
In Telford there were 163 new cases of gonorrhoea, up from 91 the previous year. The figures show that a further 20 cases were related to syphilis, eight more than the year before.
Dr Mark Lawton, from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: "Gonorrhoea is a marker of unprotected sexual activity. The use of dating apps is likely to be contributing to the increase in STIs seen, along with general changes in attitudes to sex.
"This is happening at a time when we're seeing significant cuts to funding of sexual health services, affecting access to timely testing and treatment and creating a 'perfect storm'."
Nationally, the number of new STIs diagnoses increased by seven per cent in 2018. Gonorrhoea increased by 25 per cent to 54,198 cases, the largest number recorded since 1978. There were a further 7,287 cases of syphilis – a five per cent increase on 2017.
Debbie Laycock, head of policy and public affairs at the Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity working on HIV and other STI prevention, says urgent action is needed from the Government.
Commenting on the figures, she said: "We are yet again seeing soaring rates of syphilis and gonorrhoea, and increases in the number of people attending sexual health services, which is happening against a backdrop of central government stripping £700 million from public health budgets in the last five years.
"Progress has sharply halted in tackling rates of chlamydia, with rates up six per cent last year, while there continues to be a decline in the number of chlamydia tests being carried out.
"This is clear evidence that removing access to testing is having a direct impact on the rates of chlamydia, with cases now rising.
Ms Laycock added: "There is now a real risk to widening health inequalities already faced by certain groups.
"Black, asian, and minority ethnic communities, young people, people living with HIV and gay and bisexual men are once again disproportionally affected by new STI rates. Gay and bisexual men, for example, accounted for 75 per cent of new syphilis cases."