Gonorrhoea diagnoses rose by 6% last year, after falling steadily since 2002, when cephalosporins, the currently recommended antibiotics, were introduced. Total STI diagnoses increased 3% in 2009 to 482,696.
Professor Cathy Ison, of the HPA’s Centre for Infections, said: ‘At the moment the gonorrhoea drugs we use in the UK are still effective.
‘Our lab tests show the bacteria are becoming less sensitive, and it could become a very difficult infection to treat within the next five years.'
The overall rise in STIs may be due to a greater number of more sensitive tests being included, according to Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the HPA’s STI section.
Regional data was broken down by PCT for the first time, showing London and other urban areas had the most cases.