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New STI Data for England Highlights Urgent Need for the Next Government to Prioritise A National Sexual Health Strategy

Today’s publication of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) annual data on new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) diagnoses is a concerning indicator of the severe pressure being placed on sexual health services. The report details a continued rise in the level of STIs being diagnosed in England, with a total of 401,800 diagnoses recorded in 2023, an increase of 4.7% compared to 2022.

There were particularly steep increases in new diagnoses of gonorrhoea (increasing by 7.5% – from 79,268 diagnoses in 2022, to 85,223 diagnoses in 2023) and syphilis (increasing by 9.4% - from 8,693 diagnoses in 2022, to 9,513 diagnoses in 2023). This data means that rates of newly diagnosed gonorrhoea and syphilis in England have now increased respectively by 129% and 114% since 2014.

 Against a challenging backdrop of funding cuts and workforce pressures, services are also continuing to experience growing levels of demand for care. The number of consultations delivered by sexual health services in England in 2023 reached a record 4.61 million, a 5% increase from the year before, and a 44.3% increase from 2019 (the furthest point from when UKHSA data is available).

In light of today’s figures, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) is calling on the next government to implement a national sexual health strategy, informed by the sector, to address the challenges facing sexual health services and enable services to deliver high-quality care that meets rising and changing demand, and that ends health inequalities.

Commenting on UKHSA’s data publication, Professor Matt Phillips, President of BASHH, said:

“We find ourselves at a critical point for securing the viability of sexual health services. The worrying trajectory of new STI diagnoses are a sign of increased unmet needs for those who require sexual health care, particularly those in minoritised communities and those who might prefer face to face services, and underline the need for a long-awaited and much needed strategy for sexual health. From recruitment challenges, to public health funding, to ensuring the right experts are supporting every clinic, the next government has an opportunity to change the tides and address these barriers to ensure everyone has timely access to expertise to support good sexual health and wellbeing.”

Note to Editors

A national recruitment campaign is being created and executed by BASHH to address the challenges Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) is facing to recruit new doctors into its specialty. As the lead professional representative body for specialist physicians in genitourinary medicine in the UK, BASHH has committed to working to address these concerns, raise awareness of our great specialty, and support considerations for a career in GUM.

The full UKSHA data is available to view here.

For BASHH media requests, please contact Sean Walker at

New STI Data for England Highlights Urgent Need for the Next Government to Prioritise A National Sexual Health Strategy