Sex disease shame of youngsters

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HUNDREDS of Wigan’s young people are infected with with sexually-transmitted diseases, new figures reveal.

A report by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed that in 2011, more 15 to 24-year-olds in the borough were suffering from chlamydia and gonorrhoea than the North West average.

While cases have dropped over the past three years, there are still 2,464 per 100,000 population infected with chlamydia, as opposed to the regional average of 2,377.

The statistics also revealed that 38.7 per 100,000 were infected with Gonorrhoea in Wigan last year, as supposed to the North West average of 37.0 per 100,000.

Herpes, syphilis and genital warts were all far lower than in other areas of the region. However the North West as a whole still sees more STIs per head of population than any other part of England.

That said, the figures have steadily dropped over the past three years and health chiefs are hopeful this will continue.

Dr Roberto Vivancos, regional lead for sexual health with the HPA, said: “It is crucial the work to reduce STIs continues. Improving awareness and encouraging safer sexual behaviour through health promotion and education is essential to helping prevent STIs.

“Coupled with this, ensuring easy access to sexual health services and STI screening is important for controlling the transmission of all STIs and needs to be focused on groups at highest risk.

“The message of consistent condom use is even more important for men who have sex with men because they are at particular risk of HIV as well as other STIs.

“It is worth noting that there are a disproportionate number of diagnoses in this particular group because of increased testing.

“The figures underline the importance of regular sexual health screening for this group. The HPA currently recommends that men who have sex with men should be tested for HIV at least annually.

“Getting screened for HIV/STIs can lead to early identification and treatment, as often these infections have no symptoms. In addition, reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships can reduce the risk of being infected with an STI.”