Syphilis on the rise in London

You’re three times more likely to have syphilis if you live in London as in the rest of the country – and rates of infection are especially high among bi and gay men.

New figures from Public Health England show that in 2015, nearly 3,000 cases were diagnosed in the capital, accounting for 56% of all cases in England (5,042).

Since 2010, cases among Londoners have soared by 163%.

PHE report that, “Cases of syphilis have been reported among heterosexuals and men who have sex with men (MSM). However, MSM are disproportionately affected by the infection. Despite representing around 2% of the London population, in 2015 MSM made up 90% of all syphilis cases. This group has seen an 18% increase in cases from 2014 to 2015 alone.”

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London, said:
“Worsening sexual health remains one of the biggest public health concerns facing London and it is worrying to see such alarming rises in syphilis year-on-year. Most cases of syphilis are treatable with antibiotics and it is preventable if you practice safe sex.

“We are seeing large increases in cases of syphilis among men who have sex with men and they now represent 90% of syphilis cases in London. Although diagnoses among heterosexuals in the capital are more stable they too continue to be higher than we would like given the effective preventative measures in place.”

PHE also notes that in 2015, London boroughs made up 18 of the top 20 local authorities in England with the highest rates of syphilis.