‘Safer sex’ isn’t working as gonorrhoea cases repeat

A third of gonorrhoea cases are repeat infections showing that ‘safer sex’ messages are not working, a critic says.

But the Government agency which published the findings has vowed to press on with the failed approach.

Earlier this year it was reported that new diagnoses for gonorrhoea in 2011 had jumped 25 per cent compared to the previous year.


New findings from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show nearly a third of the diagnoses considered were repeat cases and a third were diagnosed alongside another sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at the HPA, said: “The 25 per cent increase in new gonorrhoea diagnoses in 2011, plus high rates of repeat infection and co-infection with other STIs, shows more must be done to encourage safer sexual behaviour through health promotion and ensuring easy access to sexual health services and screening.”

But Prof David Paton, a long-standing critic of ‘safer sex’ policies, said the advice was lacking.


He commented: “The advice says nothing about reducing the number of sexual partners or the dangers of having sex at too early an age.

“It implies that, as long as you use a condom, it’s ok. But having lots of sexual partners is a high risk activity in itself.”

There were 426,867 new cases of sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in 2011 in England – up from 419,773 the previous year.

The overall rise was mainly driven by new diagnoses for gonorrhoea.

The largest rise in diagnoses of STIs was seen in men who have sex with men, while amongst hetreosexuals overall rates remained highest in those aged 15-24.