A total of 311,604 new STIs were diagnosed in England in 2021, an increase of 1,683 compared to 2020.

Although still low compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, the overall number of newly diagnosed STIs in England is high, so it is important to be tested and prescribe effective treatment when needed. Ignoring STIs can lead to long-term problems, such as infertility.

Here we discuss and summarize the main findings of our report Screening for sexually transmitted infections and chlamydia in England, 2021 Here’s what we need to know to understand the risks, as well as some simple steps we can take to maintain good sexual health.

Who is most at risk for STIs?

People who have unprotected sex with new or casual partners are at risk of STIs.

As in previous years, the highest rates of STI diagnoses were seen among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM); youth aged 15 to 24; and people of black ethnicity.

Compared to people aged 25 and over, young people aged 15 to 24 are at the highest risk of the most common STIs, and this may be due to frequent changes in sexual partners.

Although the number of new STI diagnoses among youth aged 15 to 24 in 2021 (133,342) fell by 5.8% overall compared to 2020, a decline in testing during the Covid-19 pandemic may be behind this, raising concerns that more infections may be going undetected. Can’t be treated.

Between 2020 and 2021 there is an increase in STI diagnoses in GBMSM – including diagnoses of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

Gonorrhea diagnoses increased by 9.0%, from 24,784 to 27,123, chlamydia increased by 5.5%, from 14,191 to 14,980, and infectious syphilis diagnoses increased by 2.6%, from 5,118 to 5,254.

Compared to other ethnic groups, people of black Caribbean ethnicity had the highest rate of STI diagnosis in 2021.

Previous studies have found no unique clinical or behavioral factors that explain the higher rates of STI diagnosis among people of Black Caribbean ethnicity. This disparity is likely influenced by underlying social and economic factors and their role in the health disparities experienced by these communities.

HIV – What is the latest data telling us?

In 2021, new HIV diagnoses increased by 1% to 2,955, with increases among GBMSM and heterosexual and bisexual women.

The proportion of those diagnosed late increased from 44% to 46%. The increase in late diagnoses is likely a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has reduced the number of people tested in 2020, particularly affecting heterosexual men and women.

HIV testing is the pathway to accessing HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which has been proven to reduce HIV transmission. If you are diagnosed with HIV, treatment is effective and people diagnosed early can expect a long, healthy life.

Effective HIV treatment results in undetectable levels of virus, which means that HIV cannot be transmitted sexually (“undetectable = untransmissible” or “U=U”).

How can I protect myself against STIs?

STIs can have serious consequences for your own health and for your current or future sexual partners.

Condom use is important to prevent the spread of STIs and HIV, and is a key tool in looking after our sexual health and well-being.

If you have sex with new or casual partners, use a condom and get tested – if you have any unusual symptoms, don’t have sex until you get tested.

Get tested for STIs regularly

Regular testing for STIs and HIV is essential to maintaining good sexual health.

Everyone who has unprotected sex with a new or casual partner should get an STI screen with an HIV test at least once a year – even if they have no symptoms.

People at risk of STIs and HIV can access testing through sexual health services.

Many services offer online testing, meaning people can order self-sampling kits using sexual health service websites, take them to the privacy of their own home, send them to a laboratory for testing, and receive the results by text, phone call, or email. post

Local sexual health services can be found online at NHS.UK.

If I test positive for an STI, where can I get treatment?

Sexual health services are free and confidential and offer treatment as well as testing for HIV and STIs

Sexual health services provide condoms, vaccinations, HIV PrEP and HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Information and advice on sexual health, including how to access services, is available from SexYJ and the National Sexual Health Helpline on 0300 123 7123.

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