London’s chlamydia hotspots revealed amid calls to ramp up tests

Chlamydia levels remain high in parts of the capital (Stock image)  (PA)
Chlamydia levels remain high in parts of the capital (Stock image) (PA)

London’s chlamydia hotspots for young people have been revealed as health experts called for the capital to ramp up testing capacity.

Lambeth had the highest rate of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) with a detection rate of 3,063 cases per 100,000 people aged between 18 and 24 – the equivalent of around 3 per cent of residents in the age group.

Detection rates measure the proportion of the population who test positive within a 12-month period.

Lewisham was in second place with 2,873 cases per 100,000 while Hackney was in third with 2,857.

And Southwark and Enfield were in fourth and fifth with 2,564 and 2,349 cases per 100,000, respectively.

Over half (51 per cent) of all sexually transmitted infection diagnoses were chlamydia in 2021, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). If left untreated, it can cause infertility in women.

However, chlamydia levels have fallen nationally by 5 per cent compared with the year before - while testing has increased by 4 per cent.

The number of sexual health screens also increased by 18.7 per cent on last year, but is down by 13.2 per cent relative to 2019.

On Tuesday, the UKHSA raised the alarm over a “marked” increase in syphilis infections in 2021 with cases rising 8.4 per cent on the year before. Infections increased by 6.1 per cent people aged between 15 and 24.

The bacterial infection, which is spread through sexual intercourse with an infected person, can spread to the brain or other parts of the body if left untreated and cause serious health issues.

Lambeth had London’s highest rate of syphilis with 145.7 cases per 100,000, according to the UKHSA figures. This was followed by Southwark (100.9) and Westminster (93.4).

Sutton had the capital’s lowest number of diagnoses with 7.2 cases per 100,000.

Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Today’s statistics show that STI and HIV testing rates are still lagging behind pre-Covid levels seen in 2019. This comes at a time when the already very limited capacity of sexual health services is being swallowed up by leading the country’s monkeypox response, which is displacing HIV and STI testing.

“The Government needs to act with urgency to properly resource the monkeypox response and mitigate the impact on wider sexual health service to avoid an increase in STIs, unwanted pregnancies and people contracting HIV.”

“That includes a clear commitment to prioritising the nation’s sexual health and ramping up HIV testing to achieve the life-changing goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030.”