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Official figures show rapid rise in STI infections



By Neha Pathak

New Government figures released today show a continued rise in sexually transmitted infections in the UK, particularly amongst young females.

The figures from the Health Protection Agency show an additional 12,000 new STI cases in 2009.

Two thirds of all new cases in women and half of all new cases in men were in the under 25s, with the greatest incidence in 19-20 year old females and 20-23 years in males.

The rise is partly attributed to the National Chlamydia Screening Programme as well as more sensitive tests for gonorrhoea and herpes rather than a rise in prevalence alone.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the STI section at the HPA, said: ‘These latest figures show that poor sexual health is a serious problem among the UK’s young adults and men who have sex with men.

‘Many studies have shown that young adults are more likely to have unsafe sex and often they lack the skills and confidence to negotiate safer sex.’

The HPA have released details of rates broken down by area for the first time. The figures reveal London PCTs accounted for 14 of the top twenty spots whilst others included Brighton and Hove, Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

Peter Greenhouse, spokesperson for British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said the results showed the value of maintaining high-quality sexual health services.

He said: ‘Sexual health has not yet been considered in the NHS reorganisation, and services may suffer if not commissioned by public health experts.

‘The public health white paper is an important opportunity to make sure that sexual healthcare is recognised as a number one public health priority.’