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Gonorrhoea cases on the rise

31st May 2012

The Health Protection Agency has raised concerns over a rise in cases of gonorrhoea in England.

Newly-diagnosed cases rose by 25% last year and that has now sparked fears that the sexually-transmitted infection may be becoming untreatable.

The HPA’s head of sexually transmitted infection surveillance, Dr Gwenda Hughes, said the gonorrhoea bacterium had proved very successful at developing resistance to every treatment used in the past few decades.

She said: “We are worried that in the next five years, or some point in the future, that this is going to be a very difficult infection to treat.”

The issue is a global problem with examples of cases in Japan and Europe of infections that resist first-choice therapies.

While in the past when resistance has emerged, new drugs have been used but the HPA now acknowledges that there is no new drug on the horizon.

Figures for 2009 and 2010 show that infections fell for the first time in 10 years but last year’s data showed a rise with some 427,000 new infections diagnosed.

The HPA has growing concern of unsafe sexual behaviour in at risk groups, particularly young adults and men who have sex with men.

Lisa Power, from sexual-health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the figures must act as a wake-up call, “not only to sexually active people but also to the government and public-health services.”

She said they “represent a step backwards for the nation’s sexual health.”

The Department of Health stressed that whatever your age, you should always use a condom.

 

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