Two new reports from Public Health Scotland (PHS) show that diagnoses of chlamydia and gonorrhoea, the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Scotland, increased in 2023 compared to 2022.

The reports analysed data trends for each infection over a ten-year period, including during the COVID-19 pandemic where access to sexual health services was impacted.

The report on chlamydia shows that it is the most common STI in Scotland, with 13,400 diagnoses recorded in 2023. This is higher than 2022 (13,148), but still below the numbers seen in 2019 (17,336).

For gonorrhoea, the second most common bacterial STI in Scotland, there were 5,999 diagnoses in 2023, which is an increase on the previous year (5641).

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are passed from person to person through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Infected individuals may have no symptoms but can still pass on the infection to others. If left untreated, both infections can lead to serious health problems. However, early treatment with the appropriate antibiotic can cure an infection and limit potential harm.

The reports also show that the number of individuals tested in sexual health clinics has gradually increased since 2020 and the testing figures are now similar to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Kirsty Roy, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health Scotland, explained:

“It is good news that we are seeing testing levels in sexual health clinics return to pre-pandemic levels, which support the early detection and treatment of STIs among the population.

“Although attendances are increasing, the data suggests fewer young people and heterosexual men are using sexual health services. This puts them at risk of having an undiagnosed STI if they have had unprotected sex.

“The best way to reduce your risk of catching gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted infections is the correct and consistent use of a condom for sex with new and casual partners. If you think you may have been at risk of an STI, then please speak to your GP or local sexual health service.”

If you are concerned about STIs, further information on the signs and symptoms and where to seek advice is available on NHS Inform.

View the gonorrhoea infection in Scotland 2014-2023 report

View the chlamydia infection in Scotland 2014-2023 report

Last updated: 25 June 2024