Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis cases on the up in the North East
More than 18,000 sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were diagnosed in the North East last year.
New data revealed by Public Health England today shows that the number of diagnoses across the region is up 2% from 2016.
2017 saw 18,121 STIs diagnosed. The previous year's figure was 17,698.
Increases have been seen in case numbers for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes and syphilis - for which there has been a 28% rise in new diagnoses from 161 in 2016 to 206 in 2017.
The majority of these cases are in men, where figures have increased sharply from 135 in 2016 to 170 in 2017.
Sixty-five per cent of all syphilis cases in 2017 were in men who have sex with men.
Chlamydia continues to be the most common STI, making up 53% of all new diagnoses in the North East.
The data reveals that gonorrhoea diagnoses also continue to rise. There were 1,815 new diagnoses in 2017 compared to 1,747 in 2016 – an increase of 4% whilst figures for herpes have also risen by 5%.
Genital warts were the only infection in the North East where numbers of cases had declined from 3,056 in 2016 to 2,819 in 2017 – a fall of 8% - which is likely to be due to the successful implementation of HPV vaccination programme in girls aged 12 to 13 years.
Dr Kirsty Foster for Public Health England North East said: "These latest figures make stark reading and show that, in common with the rest of the UK, poor sexual health continues to be a serious problem in the North East.
"The increases in new diagnosis coupled with a dip in attendance at sexual health clinics is of particular concern.
“A number of regions around the country have seen falls in attendance, but the fall in the North East is the largest (4.9%).
"We are working with partners to understand these changes in patterns of attendance and how best we can work together to address any problems identified."
Dr Foster also stressed that these STIs are preventable - so it is crucial that Public Health England continues to communicate messages about sex safe, the importance of wearing a condom and getting checked out after unprotected sex.