He says this recent rise in cases of syphilis has been driven in part by behaviour changes particularly among men who have sex with men. Apps like Grindr have made casual sex more available and have been linked to a rise in people having group sex, which seems to be a risk factor for contracting syphilis, Dr French says.
And there is a growing "chemsex" trend - where people take drugs like crystal meth during sex, potentially reducing their inhibitions and making them less likely to use protection. Public health consultant for the NHS in south London, Dr Gillian Holdsworth, agrees that "dating apps may well contribute to the access to casual relationships", and it was a factor pointed to by Public Health England when it released the statistics.
Although chlamydia - by far the most common STI - has fallen among the whole population, it has risen among men who have sex with men, along with syphilis and gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea has increased across the population as a whole, however, with a fifth more cases diagnosed in than the year before. Syphilis and gonorrhoea are both highly contagious and, unlike some STIs, can be contracted through oral sex. On top of changes to sexual behaviour, more people are attending STI clinics meaning more cases of syphilis are being diagnosed. So that's likely to explain part of the rise.
And men who have sex with men are more likely to get tested, so it's possible there are more people with undiagnosed infections in the rest of the population. But the increase in infections has outstripped the increase in testing, suggesting there's been a genuine rise in STIs.
Head of policy at HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, Debbie Laycock, said: "Continued deep cuts to sexual health services across England are definitely playing a part in this rise. When it becomes harder to get an appointment, this is particularly likely to deter people who don't have symptoms but just want a routine test. Those routine tests help pick up infections at an early stage and stop them being spread to too many other people.
There's some push and pull going on here - more testing leads to more diagnoses which can drive up the figures, but at the same time leads to early detection and stops infections being spread which pushes them back down as well. A BBC investigation found some sexual-health clinics faced closure or reduced hours as almost half the councils in England which fund the clinics plan to cut spending.
But this rise in infections has been going on for years - and the particular spike in certain infections over others suggests that, again, cuts alone may not be the whole answer. That's where those lifestyle factors come into play. Budget cuts aside, where resources are focused in the health service makes a difference to STI rates, both in less and more financially straitened times. October 18, The document also lists how CDC will contribute to reducing syphilis burden.
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June 4, Dear Colleague Letter pdf icon : from Dr. Syphilis Success Stories. Curbing a Syphilis Outbreak in Alaska. Preventing Congenital Syphilis in the U.