Pandemic and fewer tests saw STI rates fall across Norfolk
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The pandemic saw a fall in the number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) caught in Norfolk - but health chiefs have urged people to get tested now normality is returning.
Figures show a fall of up to 32pc in STI infections in England last year, a drop which is being put down to both people's behaviour during the pandemic and fewer tests being done. The east of England figure was 28pc.
Norfolk ranked as one of the lowest areas for syphilis diagnosis in the country last year, with 27 cases, or three per 100,000 people.
There were 352 cases of gonorrhoea in 2020, down from 387 in 2019, which ranked below the national average.
Chlamydia remained the most commonly diagnosed STI in the county, with 1,450 cases diagnosed in people aged 15 to 24.
During 2020, internet consultations doubled as a result of the pandemic while face to face consultations fell by 35pc.
Screenings continued during the pandemic but fell by a quarter for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis or HIV.
Tracey Cooper, service director for Norfolk iCaSH services delivered by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said: “We have adapted to the challenges of Covid-19 to ensure that access to sexual health services has been maintained throughout the pandemic.
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"In addition, we have put arrangements in place to deliver treatments where clinically appropriate for STIs, and oral contraception, via Royal Mail following clinical consultations."
The trust set up an online express test STI service for over-16s and emergency contraception access was available through the pandemic.
The service director said face-to-face appointments have "steadily increased" since late summer with a mixture of in-person and virtual appointments available to meet clinical need.
iCash Norfolk has three clinics in Norfolk, including in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn.
Dr Katy Sinka, head of the sexually transmitted infections section at Public Health England, said: “No one wants to swap social distancing for an STI, and as we enjoy the fact that national Covid-19 restrictions have lifted, it’s important that we continue to look after our sexual health and wellbeing.
"If you are having sex with new or casual partners, use a condom and get tested - STIs can pose serious consequences to your own health and that of your current or future sexual partners.”