A recent report from Public Health England revealed that new cases of sexually transmitted infections increased 5 percent in 2012 from the previous year in England. Chlamydia was found to be the leading STD in the U.K., accounting for 46 percent of the volume. The agency attributes this uptick - which landed the number of cases diagnosed last year at 448,422 - to a more thorough method of data collection.
"There have been significant improvements in screening in recent years, particularly for gonorrhea and chlamydia among young adults and men who have sex with men, so we are diagnosing and treating more infections than ever," said Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at PHE.
The PHE report noted that those under the age of 25 had the highest rate of STDs and are most at risk for chlamydia and genital warts. Of those diagnosed with chlamydia and genital warts, young adults made up 64 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Hughes noted her concern regarding the implications of these numbers, as they reveal that a large chunk of the population continues to have unsafe sex.
STDs remain prevalent in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report earlier in 2013 that found an annual rate of 20 million new cases of STIs per year in the U.S., and like in the U.K., young American adults accounted for a large percentage of newly diagnosed infections. Individuals ages 15 to 24 make up half of the total STDs in the nation, though the CDC noted that they only account for 25 percent of the sexually active population.
Similarly to the U.K., young adults in the U.S. make up about 63 percent of newly diagnosed cases of chlamydia. The CDC noted that while some of the diseases - namely syphilis, trichinosis, chlamydia and gonorrhea - are easily treated, they often evolve into more serious medical issues because they go undetected, showing few to no symptoms.
The report emphasized the importance of STD prevention to reduce the risk of long-term medical consequences. It recommended that individuals get tested for all STDs at least once a year - and those who are at a high risk should undergo screenings more often. For example, men who have sex with men and have multiple partners are urged to get tested more frequently, every 3 to 6 months.