Data from Public Health England reveal that in 2020 there were 1,410 new diagnoses of chlamydia in Portsmouth – equivalent to 657 per 100,000.
Not only does this place it as the worst spot in the county for the disease but the worst in the southeast region.
And when taking into account a range of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) diagnosed that year, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and herpes, Portsmouth was the 20th highest STI hotspot in England.
The public health team at Portsmouth City Council said since 2017 the city’s STI rates had been higher than the national average, but this was linked to the fact the city ‘generally sees higher rates of screening’ than most of England.
Helen Atkinson, director of public health at the council, said: “Some STIs do not show symptoms, or may not have symptoms for a long time, delaying a diagnosis or treatment can cause complications to your overall health.
“Talk to your sexual partner about what form of contraception you want to use and be prepared. The only contraception that helps prevent STIs are barrier forms, such as condoms.
“Get tested regularly, and when you have a new sexual partner, and make sure you take up treatment when advised to protect yourself and others from contracting STIs.”
It comes as health chiefs are warning people to take extra precautions after a spate of cases of ‘super gonorrhoea’.
There have been four cases of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a version of the STI that is resistant to antibiotics, identified across England – all in people in their 20s.
In Portsmouth, there were 206 cases of ‘regular’ gonorrhoea in 2020 – ranking it as the 53rd highest place in England.
The city’s public health team said the local rise in the number of gonorrhoea cases since 2016 follows a similar pattern to other comparable areas of the country.
Roger Batterbury, the chair of Healthwatch Portsmouth, said: “Portsmouth is a university city, with a high-density population and existing severe health inequalities but with the gradual removal of restrictions on social distancing as the Covid pandemic has eased it is possible that there is now a marked increase in people acquiring STIs.”
Sexual health services in Portsmouth are run by Solent NHS Trust which operates a clinic at St Mary’s Community Health Campus in Milton.
Debbie Zimmerman, head of service at Solent NHS Trust Sexual Health, said: “We are constantly striving to ensure we understand the needs of the community and the rates of STIs.
“We will continue to support the community in the challenge of reducing all STIs through safe sex messages and interventions.”
Residents in Portsmouth can also get free home testing kits from letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk or visit the sexual health clinic at St Mary’s.
For more information on clinics or appointments visit the same website or call 0300 300 2016.
Chlamydia diagnoses in 2020
(per 100,000 people)
Portsmouth – 656.8
Southampton – 600.3
Gosport – 324.8
Havant – 292.9
Fareham – 258.7
East Hampshire – 163.9
Other STI diagnoses in Portsmouth
(per 100,000 people)
Gonorrhoea – 96
Syphilis – 14.4
Herpes – 52.6
Genital warts – 75