STI rates plunge in Doncaster during pandemic

Sexually transmitted infection rates plunged in Doncaster as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, figures suggest.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 4:56 pm

Fewer people having sex during lockdowns and disruption to health services contributed to a steep drop in STI diagnoses in England last year, experts say.

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV warned that the latest figures could represent "the tip of the iceberg".

Public Health England data shows 1,437 STIs were diagnosed in Doncaster in 2020 – 20 per cent fewer than the year before.

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Data shows 1,437 STIs were diagnosed in Doncaster in 2020 – 20% fewer than the year before

It meant 459 in every 100,000 people in the area were infected with potentially life-changing diseases including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

However, that rate was down from 2019, when 573 in 100,000 people in Doncaster were diagnosed with an STI.

The most common infection in the area was chlamydia with 784 cases found in 2020.

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A further 131 gonorrhoea cases were diagnosed, as well as 21 of syphilis, 135 of genital herpes and 148 of genital warts.

Dr John McSorley, president of BASHH, said the national drop in diagnoses highlighted the "stark and concerning" impact Covid-19 has had on sexual health services.

He added: "Whilst a drop in the number of new infections appears positive, it is important to remember that England entered the Covid pandemic with the highest rates of some STIs since the Second World War.

"This data therefore likely represents the tip of the iceberg.

"STIs haven't gone away, chains of infections haven't been broken."

He urged people to come forward for testing, saying sexually transmitted infections could have life-changing consequences.

Dr Katy Sinka, from PHE, said: "No one wants to swap social distancing for an STI, and as we enjoy the fact that national Covid-19 restrictions have lifted, it’s important that we continue to look after our sexual health and wellbeing.

"If you are having sex with new or casual partners, use a condom and get tested.

"STIs can pose serious consequences to your own health and that of your current or future sexual partners.”

The national drop reflects a combination of reduced STI testing as a result of pandemic-influenced disruption to sexual health services and changes in sexual behaviour since March 2020, according to a PHE report.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.