Blog


  • November 04, 2015
  • by White Pharmacy under 
  • Contraception, Wellbeing, White Pharmacy
  • Public Health England has just released new data on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during 2014 and the news is a mix of good and bad. The data includes diagnosis rates in England, and diagnosis rates by gender and sexuality. The rate of a few STI strains has dropped slightly since 2013, however several STIs have increased in diagnosis in England as much as 33%.

    As part of a series on sexual health, we’ll be going into details on the common STIs, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and how to stay sexually healthy.

    The STI-Opener

    We know the sheer bulk of data released by Public Health England is quite daunting, so we’ve picked and chosen relevant data to make it easier to digest for anyone worried about their risk of infection.

    Chlamydia

    a) Total diagnosis 2014 - 260,774 (-1%)

    b) Male diagnosis 2014 - 85,106 (0%)

    c) Female diagnosis 2014 - 120,008 (-1%)

    The rate of diagnosed chlamydia cases hasn’t altered much since 2013, but it is still the STI both males and females are most at risk of in the UK. Of the males diagnosed, nearly 33,000 of them were between the ages of 20-24, and over 25,000 were 25-34. Women are at generally higher risk of Chlamydia and from a younger age, with nearly 43,000 diagnosed cases in 2014 under the age of 19 and another 47,000 from 20-24.

    Chlamydia is transmitted through any form of unprotected sex and can be passed along to a child from a pregnant mother, so it’s very important to get checked regularly. Find out more about Chlamydia, including information on treatment.

    Gonorrhoea

    Total diagnosis 2014 - 34,958 (+19%)

    Male diagnosis 2014 - 26,575 (+22%)

    Female diagnosis 2014 - 8,379 (+9%)

    Even if gonorrhoea (previously known as ‘the clap’) isn’t as frequently diagnosed as chlamydia, it’s the fastest spreading STI in the country. Not only has the number of reported cases increased by one fifth, but since 2005 the total number of diagnosed gonorrhoea infections has increased by 98% (112% for men, 64% for women). Heterosexual men are most at risk from gonorrhoea, but note that males who have sex with males (MSM) diagnoses of gonorrhoea – despite being roughly a quarter that of heterosexual cases – is increasing exponentially (32% since 2013).

    Symptoms can develop weeks, months or even longer after the infection. Many men and women don’t feel any symptoms at all. There’s plenty more information on gonorrhoea symptoms, causes and treatments available online.

    Herpes

    Total diagnosis 2014 - 31,777 (-2%)

    Male diagnosis 2014 - 11,889 (-3%)

    Female diagnosis 2014 - 19,883 (-1%)

    The reports’ update on herpes diagnosis might look like good news, but numbers don’t lie and those numbers are high. It’s worth pointing out that this is the first time since 2005 that the reports of diagnosed genital herpes has dropped from the previous year, but the total difference between 2005 and 2014 is an increase of 83%. Herpes in MSM is the second least diagnosed – second to women who have sex with women (WSW) – but is the only demographic who have had an increase in cases since 2013.

    Genital Herpes affects 25% of the sexually active population in the UK, which is low compared to the rest of the world, but still a dangerously high percentage.

    Genital Warts

    Total diagnosis 2014 - 70,612 (-4%)

    Male diagnosis 2014 - 39,349 (-4%)

    Female diagnosis 2014 - 31,251 (-5%)

    Genital warts are probably the most consistent STI in the last ten years - the overall difference in diagnosed cases is only +4% since 2005. That said, it’s still the second highest number of diagnosed STIs in England, and while a very gradual decline in genital warts in England can be appreciated, the number is still so high that attention needs to be paid. The report suggests the risks to MSM STIs is growing faster than any other demographic - despite being a very small proportion of the overall results.

    There are many different types of – and symptoms from – genital warts, from post-intercourse bleeding to cancer.

    Syphilis

    Total diagnosis 2014 - 4,317 (+33%)

    Male diagnosis 2014 - 4,054 (+37%)

    Female diagnosis 2014 - 263 (-7%)

    While syphilis in heterosexual men and women has stayed more or less consistently in the hundreds of cases per year, the worrying figure comes from the MSM demographic. Syphilis is the only STI significantly dominated by MSM, having increased 114% since 2005 and 46% since 2013. Although the cases are relatively low in the country, sometimes it’s trends that require attention more than the overall figure.

    Syphilis can be treated easily if caught early, but later stages of the disease require more intensive treatment over several weeks.

    By looking at the percentages it’s easy to assume you’re most at risk of Syphilis if you’re a man, or gonorrhoea if you’re a woman, but that data – which you can be sure will be leapt upon by fear-mongering journalists – is misleading without context. The raw data is available to anyone who wants to take a look here.

    The one thing that’s clear from the results is that sexually transmitted diseases are not going away, and becoming aware of the problem is the first step to sexual health. Keep a look out on our blog for future posts in regards to sexual health, and how you can minimise your risk.

  • September 22, 2015
  • by White Pharmacy under 
  • Contraception, Wellbeing, White Pharmacy
  • On the 23rd June, Public Health England (PHE) released data on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from 2014.

    By now you should be aware of the STI situation in England and the UK - there is a lot of them. As we scoured the documents provided by PHE we learned that STIs in England have no intention of going away or even dying down. Analysing and simplifying information is one thing, but when it comes to specific STIs, what have we learned from this data?

    shutterstock_238401598lores

    Chlamydia - The Reliable Nuisance

    Chlamydia is the STI people in the UK are most at risk of. With over 260,000 diagnosed cases in England alone in 2014, you’d be forgiven for thinking that people aren’t taking it seriously. This becomes more worrying when we see the data suggest that the rates of diagnosis have barely changed in ten years. While that means the problem isn’t getting much worse, it isn’t getting significantly better either and when dealing with STIs it’s safe to assume the glass is half empty.

    If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility in addition to the painful symptoms that you can find out here.

    The Gonorrhoea Epidemic

    Gonorrhoea spent much of the 90s being referred to as ‘the clap’ - often the butt of jokes. Today it’s the fastest spreading STI in the UK and the jokes stopped being funny. England had a rise of 19% in just one year; the majority of this coming from males having sex with males (MSM) and heterosexual women.

    Not that heterosexual males should feel the risk doesn’t apply to them - the rate is still increasing within heterosexual men, but at a slower rate. Women who have sex with women (WSW) are the only demographic whose diagnosis rate has dropped since 2013.

    The steep rise in MSM diagnosis suggests there needs to be some sort of awareness campaign out there, because the exponential rate at which the rates are growing means it could be a serious epidemic soon.

    1 in 10 men and 1 in 2 women don’t even feel any symptoms of gonorrhoea so it’s best to have checks regularly so you can get treatment as soon as possible.

    The Unencouraging Decline of Genital Warts

    Genital warts are the second most common STI in the UK - the reason being they are easy to spread, and not everyone develops symptoms. The numbers are currently in a slow decline, but the figures are still in the several tens of thousands.

    In general, heterosexual men are most at risk, but the rates since 2013 dropped. A decline in figures is always a good thing, but when there are still over 70,000 people in England diagnosed with genital warts, it’s still too early to call it a win.

    There are over 100 strains of genital warts, some of which can even cause cancer, so make sure you get treatment if you need it.

    The Slow Battle Against Herpes

    While Herpes is certainly dropping in England, albeit at a significantly slower rate than other STIs are rising, the figures are still very high. It also doesn’t mean much when you consider the sharp increase in diagnosis in 2013. Once again, WSW figures are the lowest of all the demographics, and MSM come in second lowest. This isn’t representative, however, because MSM, WSW and heterosexual female diagnoses have all increased since 2012, while heterosexual male figures have dropped.

    While heterosexual females are most at risk (since it’s more easily passed to women), it’s MSM diagnosis rates that show no sign of slowing down. There are several treatments available, so talk to a specialist if you show signs of herpes.

    The Rise of Syphilis

    The numbers in regards to syphilis are comparatively low, with only a few hundred diagnosed cases per year for WSW and heterosexual men and women. It’s understandable to dismiss syphilis as a minor problem since the numbers aren’t as high as their STI siblings, but the important thing to take notice of is the incredible pace at which the rates of diagnoses increased for MSM. While still a relatively low number now, the rate has more than doubled since 2010. The problem could easily grow out of control at this rate. If you are concerned you might have syphilis, find your local sexual health clinic to keep yourself sexually healthy.

    shutterstock_138840800lores

    So be sure to practise safe sex - the diseases may be more prominent in women or in men, but safe sex is the responsibility of everyone.