HEALTH experts have issued a warning after sexually transmitted infections increased to almost 3,000 cases in the BCP area last year.

Gonorrhoea infections showed an increase of 40 per cent in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole with 333 cases diagnosed in 2019.

Experts say the large rise in gonorrhoea diagnoses nationally is worrying, with the sexually transmitted infection becoming more resistant to antibiotics over time.

The BCP area had a gonorrhoea infection rate of 84 per 100,000 people – above the South West’s average rate of 53. Across England as a whole, 126 in every 100,000 people was infected with gonorrhoea last year.

Cases across England rose by 26 per cent over the year to 70,936 – the highest number since records began in 1918.

The national figure includes 1,400 people who accessed services in England but lived elsewhere in the UK or abroad.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK after chlamydia and can sometimes be symptomless.

Dr Hamish Mohammed, national lead for sexually transmitted infection surveillance at PHE, said: “The considerable rise of gonorrhoea cases in England as well as the continued rise of other STIs is concerning.

“It is important to emphasise that STIs can pose serious consequences to health.

“We expect to see further cases of antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea in the future, which will be challenging for healthcare professionals to manage.”

In the BCP area STI cases rose to 2,935 last year, up by one per cent from 2,896 in 2018. Across England, cases rose by five per cent.

PHE said the rise was likely to be due to people not using condoms correctly and consistently with new and casual partners, and an increase in testing helping improve detection of the most common infections.

Chlamydia was the most commonly diagnosed infection last year, with 229,411 – or nearly half – of all new STI diagnoses in 2019.

Among young people aged 15 to 24, the number of chlamydia tests carried out rose two per cent compared with 2018.

Dr John McSorley, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said the rise in STI diagnoses is “hugely concerning”.

“We must consider how we can continue to improve access to services for all those who need them and those at the highest risk,” he added.

​PHE said it is analysing the data to understand the impact of the Covid-19 response on HIV and STI services and the effect of social distancing measures on the spread of STIs.

Ian Green of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the figures reveal the “ongoing inaction and lack of vision for improving the nation’s sexual health”.