New data released recently by Public Health England (PHE) show that approximately two-thirds of all syphilis cases in the UK in 2015 were diagnosed in London. Of 5,042 cases, 3,000 were in the capital, and of these, 90% were recorded in MSM (men having sex with men – gay or bisexual). PHE recommends people have a full STI check up at least once a year, or every three months if they don’t use contraceptives.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London, said in a statement: ‘Worsening sexual health remains one of the biggest public health concerns facing London and it is worrying to see such alarming rises in syphilis year-on-year. Most cases of syphilis are treatable with antibiotics and it is preventable if you practice safe sex. I hope today’s report will further raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections including syphilis and drive home the messages about the importance of practicing safe sex, which includes using condoms, regularly being tested and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships. All of these will reduce the risk of STIs.’
Dr Patrick French, a sexual health specialist and genitourinary medicine consultant at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, said, ‘When I started working in sexual health in London we might have diagnosed four or five people with syphilis in a year; we can now see that number of people with syphilis in a day or two. ‘Syphilis has established itself as a major problem in London among men who have sex with men, but there is now a considerably smaller but worrying rise among heterosexuals.’ –