Safe sex message fears after rise in STIs

By Ian Dipple Thursday 26 June 2014 Updated: 27/06 09:42

TOO MANY people are continuing to take risks with their sexual health new figures show.

Across Redditch and Worcestershire the number of sexually transmitted infections rose sharply between 2012 and 2013 according to Public Health England.

Cases of chlamydia in the borough increased by 8.5 per cent from 236 to 256 with more than two thirds of those diagnosed in young people aged 15 to 24.

The condition is particularly hard to diagnose as most people have no symptoms. It can cause infertility in women if left untreated.

Gonorrhoea cases, which can cause painful or swollen testicles and a burning sensation when urinating, rose 40 per cent up from 30 to 42.

Overall the number of new STIs diagnosed in Redditch increased by 13 per cent from 540 to 610, more than the countywide increase of 6.5 per cent from 2,955 to 3,141.

Mick Mason, regional manager for HIV and sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust in the Midlands, said the figures were proof the safer sex message was not getting through to everyone.

"This is a further reminder the current approach to sex education in schools is not fit for purpose, leaving too many young people unprepared for the pressures of modern relationships," he said.

"Taught properly, sex and relationships education has been shown to delay sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase the use of condoms and other contraception. Young people will continue to bear the brunt of sexual ill health until we have a high-quality programme of sex and relationships education taught in all schools."

Coun Marcus Hart, responsible for health and wellbeing on Worcestershire County Council, said they already commissioned sexual health services in schools and a sexual health education programme run by Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust.

He added: "The Worcestershire and Redditch figures reflect national trends and are due in part to an increase in service provision and access to sexual health services and STI testing over the last decade.

"While we accept rates in some areas have increased, they are considerably lower in Worcestershire than in England. The increases have been seen in the younger age group 15-24 years, and this is reflected in Redditch and Wyre Forest where there is a greater proportion of population in this age group as well as greater levels of deprivation also associated with STIs."

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