This year the PHA is highlighting the increase in diagnoses of gonorrhoea being seen in both heterosexuals and in men who have sex with men (MSM). The Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance in Northern Ireland 2013 report shows there were 451 new episodes of uncomplicated gonorrhoea diagnosed in Northern Ireland Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics in 2012, compared with 336 in 2011, an increase of 34%. The increase can be attributed to a combination of more sensitive testing, an increase in the number of people tested and increased unsafe sex activity.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) and, untreated, can enter the bloodstream or spread to the joints. In women it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. An infected pregnant woman may pass the infection to her baby during delivery. There is a growing worldwide problem of gonorrhoea becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Diagnoses of chlamydia also remain at high levels, with 3,251 diagnoses made during 2013. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection and is asymptomatic in at least 50% of men and 70% of women. In women, untreated infection can cause chronic pelvic pain and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and infertility. An infected pregnant woman may also pass the infection to her baby during delivery. Complications in men include urethritis, epididymitis and Reiter’s Syndrome.
Dr Neil Irvine, Health Protection Consultant with the PHA, said: “During sexual health week, we want to remind sexually active people of the dangers of STIs, and how important it is to practice safer sex.
“STIs which are untreated can result in serious health issues such as infertility. It is important to protect yourself and to stop the spread of infection to others. Use condoms, limit the number of sexual partners you have, and get checked out if you have put yourself at risk.”
Details about local GUM clinics are available on the PHA’s website at http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/genitourinary-medicine-gumsexual-health-clinics-northern-ireland
Notes to the editor
Notes to Editors
The Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance in Northern Ireland 2013 report can be found at www.publichealthagency.org/directorate-public-health/health-protection/sexually-transmitted-infections