The epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections in the UK: impact of behavior, services and interventions

Future Microbiol. 2015;10(1):35-51. doi: 10.2217/fmb.14.110.


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major public health concern. The UK has some of the most advanced STI surveillance systems globally. This article uses national surveillance data to describe remarkable changes in STI epidemiology in the UK over the last century and explores the behavioral and demographic shifts that may explain these trends. The past 10 years have seen considerable improvements in STI service provision and the introduction of national public health interventions. However, sexual health inequalities persist and men who have sex with men, young adults and black ethnic minorities remain a priority for interventions. Technological advances in testing and a shift in sexual health service commissioning arrangements will present both opportunities and challenges in future.

Keywords: UK; epidemiology; sexual behavior; sexual health interventions; sexual health services; sexually transmitted infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Public Health Practice*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / ethnology
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology