Gonorrhoea dates back as far as Biblical timesDartmouth Electron Microscope Facility/https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Misc_pollen_colorized.jpg/ Public Domain

Infection numbers of gonorrhoea have risen by six times in Cambridge during the past decade.

According to the latest NHS data, the number of cases in Cambridge reached 248 in 2023. This is over six times higher than the number of recorded cases in the city in 2012, when regional records began.

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease, most often spread by unprotected sexual intercourse. When left untreated, the disease can give rise to complications such as infertility and blindness.

Cambridge has seen the highest rate of cases in Cambridgeshire, with the equivalent of one in 593 people catching the disease compared to one in 2,416. The rate of diagnoses in Cambridge in 2023, of 169 infections per 100,000 people, significantly exceeds the national average of 149 per 100,000.

Cases of the disease have increased across the country in the last ten years, with the infection rate tripling. Infection numbers dropped during the pandemic lockdowns, before again rising to record levels.

Gonorrhoea dates back as far as Biblical times with mentions of the infection being found in the earliest records of the human race. The disease is thought to be referenced several times in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament.

The latest data comes as the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) warns of a “challenging backdrop” for sexual health services, caused by “funding cuts and workforce pressures”.


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Sexual health services in England delivered a record number of 4.6 million consultations in 2023, representing a 44% rise since 2019.

BASHH president, Professor Matthew Phillips of the University of Central Lancashire, said that sexual health services are at a “critical point”, and called for the development of a national sexual health strategy.

Ahead of the general election later this week, Phillips stated that “the next government has an opportunity to change the tides […] to ensure everyone has timely access to expertise to support good sexual health and wellbeing”.