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Sexual health drive hampered by 'ignorance and indifference'

By Lilian Anekwe

Attempts to tackle the rise in chlamydia infections in young people are being met with ‘ignorance and indifference' amongst the under-25s, according to the Department of Health.

A DH-commissioned survey of 2,000 young adults and parents shows a ‘superficial knowledge and a casual attitude' to chlamydia is putting the nation's sexual health at risk.

The poll found one in five people do not realise catching chlamydia can affect a woman's fertility, and two thirds do not use a condom when they have sex with a new partner for the first time.

Nine out of ten people said they do not get tested for STIs before starting a new relationship, despite more than three quarters of young people being aware that chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed STI in England.

Parents also had misplaced opinions about chlamydia and sexual health, the poll found.

More than a third of parents of 15 - 24 year olds have never had a conversation with their children about STIs.

One in five believe their son or daughter ‘isn't the type of person to sleep around', and 14% believe he or she isn't having sex at all.

Dr Catherine Hood, a sexual health expert and a clinical tutor in general practice at Oxford University, said: ‘Despite knowing how common chlamydia is, many young adults are worryingly indifferent to the potentially serious consequences of catching and leaving chlamydia untreated. Chlamydia often has no symptoms and so I'm urging all sexually active under-25s to say ‘yes' to a chlamydia test.'

‘GPs and nurses are routinely offering 15-24 year olds a chlamydia test when they see them – it's nothing personal and completely normal to accept one.'

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