RATES of STIs have fallen in Trafford as a result of the pandemic – but are still higher than rates of coronavirus.

Figures from Public Health England shows 983 STIs were diagnosed in Trafford in 2020 – 36 per cent less than in the previous year.

This means 414 in 100,000 people were diagnosed with sometimes life-changing diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea or syphilis.

In the previous year, 645 in 100,000 people were diagnosed with these diseases.

For comparison, rates of coronavirus in Trafford stood at 353 in 100,000 people in the week ending September 3.

People having less sex during lockdown, as well as disruption to health services, have both contributed to the fall, according to experts.

But the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, or BASHH, warned the figures might represent 'the tip of the iceberg'.

Dr John McSorley, president of BASHH, said: "Whilst a drop in the number of new infections appears positive, it's important to remember England entered the pandemic with the highest rates of some STIs since the Second World War.

"This data therefore likely represents the tip of the iceberg. STIs haven't gone away, chains of infections haven't been broken."

The most common infection in 2020 was chlamydia, with 408 diagnoses, while gonorrhoea had 162 diagnoses and syphilis had 24 diagnoses.

Dr Mc Sorley urged people to come forward for STI testing, a message echoed by Dr Katy Sinka from Public Health England.

She said: "No one wants to swap social distancing for an STI, and as we enjoy the fact restrictions have lifted, it's important that we continue to look after our sexual health and wellbeing.

"If you're having sex with new or casual partners, use a condom and get tested. STIs can pose serious consequences to your own health and that of your current and future sexual partners."

Public Health England said although testing decreased during the pandemic, sexual health services continued to diagnose hundreds of thousands of STIs across the country after scaling up phone and online consultations during lockdown.

There were still face-to-face appointments for the most complex and urgent cases at the time.