COVID lockdowns have caused UK's STI rates to plunge

STI rates in the UK took a dive in 2020 as lockdowns and COVID rules kept hookups out of bounds.

COVID lockdowns have caused UK STI rates to plunge
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COVID lockdowns have caused UK STI rates to plunge

Recent data from Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that rates of sexually transmitted infection plummeted by almost a third over 2020, mainly due to lockdowns keeping promiscuity at bay.

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PHE has confirmed that a total of 317,901 STIs were diagnosed in 2020, a 32% drop from the rates recorded in 2019. However, they added that despite the fall in STI’s the overall rate was still high.

Chlamydia the UK’s most diagnosed STI in 2020

Due to last year’s lockdowns, Brits were largely prevented from escaping the confines of their homes to enjoy any intimate moments.

Last year also saw a 35% decrease in face-to-face appointments, and 25% fewer tests were carried out for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV compared to 2019. Both factors likely would have contributed to a drop in STI diagnoses.

Still, Chlamydia reigned as the most prominent STI in England last year, with 161,672 diagnoses, a 29% drop from 2019. However, despite the decline in cases, the overall rate of chlamydia stood at 9.8%

The next most common STIs in the UK last year were gonorrhoea with 57,084 diagnoses, genital warts at 27,473, and there were 20,530 instances of Herpes.

PHE data also showed that those who were most likely to be diagnosed with an STI were between the ages of 15-24, as well as those who were black, gay or bisexual, a trend that has remained steady in the previous years.

STI rates are still high despite drops

Despite a drop in STIs, the overall high rate of infections in 2020 suggests that sexually transmitted infections are still making their way around the UK without much hindrance. And, with lockdowns no longer in force, Brits will once again be embracing their libidos, meaning infections may once again rise in 2021.

Dr Katy Sinka, the head of the sexually transmitted infections section at PHE, added that anyone having sex with new partners or without a condom should get tested regularly, despite any symptoms.

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.

Dr Sinka added: ‘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.’

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