Sexually transmitted infection rates plunge in Wigan due to Covid-19
The decrease in the number of people having sex during closures and the disruption of health services contributed to a sharp drop in STI diagnoses in England last year, experts say.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV has warned that the latest figures could represent “the tip of the iceberg”.
Data from Public Health England shows 1,294 STIs were diagnosed in Wigan in 2020, 31% fewer than the year before.
This meant that 391 out of 100,000 people in the region were infected with life-changing diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
However, that rate was down from 2019, when 566 out of 100,000 people in Wigan were diagnosed with STIs.
The most common infection in the region was chlamydia with 726 cases detected in 2020. Another 150 cases of gonorrhea were diagnosed, along with 18 cases of syphilis, 115 cases of genital herpes and 132 cases of genital warts.
Dr John McSorley, chairman of BASHH, said the national drop in diagnoses highlighted the “harsh and worrying” impact Covid-19 has had on sexual health services.
He added: âWhile a drop in the number of new infections looks positive, it’s important to remember that England entered the Covid pandemic with the highest rates of some STIs since World War II.
âSo these data are probably the tip of the iceberg.
“STIs haven’t gone away, the chains of infection haven’t been broken.”
He urged people to get tested, saying sexually transmitted infections could have life-changing consequences.
Dr Katy Sinka, of PHE, said: ‘No one wants to trade social distancing for an STI, and since we appreciate the fact that national restrictions on Covid-19 have been lifted, it is important that we continue to take care of our sexual health and well-being.
âIf you have sex with new or casual partners, use a condom and get tested.
âSTIs can have serious consequences for your own health and that of your current or future sexual partners. “
The national drop reflects a combination of reduction in STI testing due to disruption of sexual health services and changes in sexual behavior due to a pandemic since March 2020, according to a PHE report.
He said testing and diagnoses declined for all infections in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, but sexual health services continued to diagnose hundreds of thousands of infections after stepping up phone consultations and the Internet during lockdown times.
Face-to-face appointments for urgent or complex cases also continued during this period.