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The STI Index - UK & Europe

The STI hotspots where you’ll want to be extra careful

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There are many ways in which we look after our health, from going to the gym and staying active, to adopting a healthy diet and taking all the right vitamins and supplements. Our health is extremely important as it impacts our ability to live life to the fullest.

Of course, there are some instances where we often slip up. Things like having a few too many drinks at the pub, staying up late to binge-watch that great new series, or indulging in your favourite unhealthy takeaway can all damage our health, but once in a while, it’s okay to treat yourself.

However, when it comes to sexual health, many people seem to disregard their health by not using proper protection. Whether this is due to being caught up in the moment, or simple absent-mindedness, this can lead to all manner of unpleasant infections which you will have to experience first-hand.

With this in mind, we wanted to find out where the biggest STI hotspots are in the country, and in Europe. This way, whether at home or away, you might be encouraged to protect your assets the next time things get steamy.

STIs in the UK

England’s STI Hotspots

We’ve found out which UK locations have the highest diagnosis rate for a range of different sexually transmitted infections, as well as which have the most STIs overall.

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The locations with the most STIs (overall)

  • Lambeth - 3,915 diagnoses per 100,000
  • Hackney - 3,306 diagnoses per 100,000
  • Southwark - 3,138 new infections per 100,000

With 3,915 new STI diagnoses per 100,000 people, the London borough of Lambeth is the area with the highest rate of STI diagnoses in the country. In fact, all of the top ten locations for new STI diagnoses are in the capital!

UK chlamydia hotspots

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  • Lambeth - 1,611 chlamydia diagnoses per 100,000
  • Hackney - 1,519 chlamydia diagnoses per 100,000
  • Southwark - 1,289 chlamydia diagnoses per 100,000

Not only are all of the top ten locations for chlamydia diagnoses in London, but the top three places are the same for overall STIs. If you’re feeling romantic in these areas, maybe think of protection at the same time.

UK genital herpes hotspots

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  • Hackney - 186 genital herpes diagnoses per 100,000
  • Lambeth - 185.6 genital herpes diagnoses per 100,000
  • Wandsworth - 167.4 genital herpes diagnoses per 100,000

Hackney leapfrogs Lambeth to claim the title of the location with the highest rate of genital herpes, with 186 diagnoses per 100,000. Lambeth comes second on 185.6 diagnoses per 100,000, and Wandsworth claims third place with 167.4.

We also see the first non-London entry as Blackpool takes tenth place, with 1312 genital herpes diagnoses per 100,000 people.

UK genital wart hotspots

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  • Hammersmith and Fulham - 237.7 genital wart diagnoses per 100,000
  • Wandsworth - 232 genital wart diagnoses per 100,000
  • Lambeth - 229.1 genital wart diagnoses per 100,000

You’re most likely to encounter genital wart in Hammersmith and Fulham, as there were 237.7 cases per 100,000 people in the area. Wandsworth and Lambeth are both back for repeat appearances recording 232 and 229.1 cases per 100,000 respectively.

UK gonorrhoea hotspots

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  • Lambeth - 1,112.2 gonorrhoea diagnoses per 100,000
  • Southwark - 850.9 gonorrhoea diagnoses per 100,000
  • City of London - 843.5 gonorrhoea diagnoses per 100,000

Just like for chlamydia, all top ten locations for gonorrhoea are in London. Lambeth takes the top spot once more with 1112.2 cases per 100,000, while Southwark and City of London take silver and bronze, with 850.9 and 843.5 per 100,000.

UK syphilis hotspots

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  • City of London - 205.7 syphilis diagnoses per 100,000
  • Lambeth - 168.4 syphilis diagnoses per 100,000
  • Southwark - 112 syphilis diagnoses per 100,000

The UK’s syphilis hotspot is the City of London, where there were 205.7 diagnoses per 100,000. Familiar faces Lambeth and Southwark come second and third with rates of 168.4 and 112 diagnoses per 100,000 respectively.

UK HIV hotspots

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  • Westminster - 47.4 HIV diagnoses per 100,000
  • Southwark - 41.2 HIV diagnoses per 100,000
  • Camden - 40.8 HIV diagnoses per 100,000

The place in the UK with the most HIV diagnoses is Westminster, with 47.4 cases per 100,000. Southwark claims second place with a rate of 41.2, while Camden takes third place with 40.8 cases per 100,000.

STIs across the regions

As almost all of our top ten locations for each STI were in London, we looked at regional differences in order to gain a better perspective of the STI landscape.

Chlamydia by region

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Yorkshire and the Humber is the region outside of London with the most cases of chlamydia with a rate of 393.3 per 100,000, while its hotspot Leeds has a rate almost double that at 800.7.

The East of England is again the area with the lowest rate of infection at only 304.6 per 100,000. However, Norwich, the location with the highest rate in the area, recorded a strangely high number of cases with 735.6 per 100,000.

Genital herpes by region

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The North West has the highest rate of genital herpes outside of London, with 59.8 cases per 100,000. The hotspot in the region is Blackpool, which has a rate of 132.

The East of England continues its run at the bottom of the table, having recorded a rate of only 44.4 diagnoses per 100,000. Regional hotspot Epping Forest has the most cases with a rate of 73.7.

Genital warts by region

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The North West is once again the region with the highest rate of infection outside of London, with 87.9 cases per 100,000. Manchester has the highest concentration of these cases with a rate of 153.9 per 100,000.

The West Midlands is the region with the lowest rate of infection, with only 71.3 diagnoses per 100,000, while the regional hotspot, Rugby, has a rate of 104.6.

Gonorrhoea by region

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The West Midlands is the region outside of London with the most cases of gonorrhoea relative to its population, with 98.5 diagnoses per 100,000 people. Birmingham is the city with the highest rate of infection in the region, with 188.8 cases of gonorrhoea per 100,000.

The South West has the lowest rate of gonorrhoea infections, with a rate of just 52.8, although the regional hotspot, Cheltenham, has a much higher rate of 116.1.

Syphilis by region

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The region with the highest rate of syphilis infections outside of London is the North West, where there are 13.5 cases per 100,000 people. Blackpool is the regional hotspot with a rate of 48 per 100,000.

The East of England is the area with the fewest cases and a diagnostic rate of 6. Cambridge is the most syphilitic place in the area with 14.4 cases per 100,000.

HIV by region

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Outside of London, the region with the highest rate of HIV infection is the South East, with 6.6 diagnoses per 100,000. The regional hotspot is Milton Keynes, where the rate is as high as 21.4.

The region with the lowest proportion of HIV diagnoses is the North East, where the rate is only 4.2 per 100,000. Even the region’s supposed hotspot, South Tyneside, only has a rate of 7.2.

Comparing countries: STIs in Europe

Before looking into the prevalence of STIs within different parts of the UK, we wanted to find out how we compare against other countries. In this section, we will compare countrywide data with other European nations to find out which have the most cases of various STIs.

Chlamydia in Europe

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Denmark is the European capital of chlamydia with 578 confirmed cases of infection for every 100,000 people. This is followed by Iceland, with 526.6 cases per 100,000, and Norway with 501.5. The UK places fourth with a rate of 365.7 confirmed cases per 100,000.

This shows that chlamydia is most prevalent in Northern Europe, with the top three countries being Scandinavian and all but one of the top ten countries being from either the Baltic, Scandinavia, or the British Isles.

Gonorrhoea in Europe

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The UK is Europe’s gonorrhoea hotspot by quite a way with a rate of 93.2 confirmed cases per 100,000. This is almost double second-place Ireland’s rate of 49.8, and dwarfs third place Demark’s 38 cases per 100,000.

Again, we see that most countries with high case rates are in Northern Europe, with the top six being countries in Scandinavia and the British Isles. Malta also makes a repeat appearance in seventh place with a rate of 25.4 per 100,000.

Syphilis in Europe

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Malta is the syphilis capital of Europe with a rate of 17.9 confirmed cases per 100,000. Although, with a population of fewer than 500,000 people, there should be fewer than ninety cases on this syphilitic isle.

Malta is closely followed by another tiny European nation, Luxembourg, which has a case rate of 17.1 per 100,000, while the UK takes third place with a rate of 12.6.

HIV in Europe

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Latvia is the country with the highest rate of HIV cases in Europe, with 19 confirmed cases for every 100,000 people. Neighbouring Estonia comes second with 16.6 cases per 100,000, while Portugal takes third place with a rate of 10.4.

The Baltic states appear to be Europe’s HIV hotspot, as the third member of the group, Lithuania, also placed eighth with a rate of 9.2 cases per 100,000. The UK performed relatively well, coming thirteenth with a rate of only 6.6 cases per 100,000.

AIDS in Europe

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Latvia is the country with the highest rate of AIDS amongst its population, with 6.1 confirmed cases per 100,000. As Latvia has the highest rate of HIV, and as AIDS directly develops from HIV, this is not hugely surprising. Portugal came second with 2.3 confirmed cases per 100,000, while Lithuania came third with 1.9.

The UK again performed relatively well, coming nineteenth with a rate of just 0.4 cases per 100,000. Cases for AIDS are much lower than for HIV due to widely available treatments which have proven successful in preventing HIV from developing into AIDS.

Methodology & Sources

We wanted to find out which parts of the UK and Europe had the highest levels of various STIs. For the UK, we used Government data from Public Health England. Unfortunately, we could not find comparable data for the devolved UK nations, so were only able to present rates for English locations.

This data allowed us to view rates of several STIs in over 300 locations within England alone. We were then able to rank the locations by the rate of new diagnoses of each STI, giving us a top ten for each. The data was then also sorted by region to give a view of the levels of each STI across the country.

For Europe, we used data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This data gave us an overview of the levels of confirmed cases of each STI across the majority of European nations, allowing us to directly compare levels in the UK with other countries. These countries were then ranked by their rate of confirmed cases in order to produce a top ten list for each STI.