Decline in sex cases

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SEXUALLY transmitted infections have fallen in Wigan, according to the latest statistics.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) released statistics that show a downturn in the amount of people treated in the borough for the first time in a decade.

Cases of chlamydia in those under 25 in Ashton, Leigh and Wigan was one of the lowest in the region at 2434.2 per 100,000 population. The average was 2581.

Wigan also had the lowest rate in the North West for herpes, with cases numbering 32.3 per 100,000. The North West on average had 55.7 cases.

Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that saw a decrease in 2010 included Gonorrhoea at 19.2 per 100,000 population in Wigan as supposed to the North West average of 28.4.

Overall Accute STI’s in Wigan were 583.4 cases per 100,000 population, while the North West as a whole was 805.8

Dr Roberto Vivancos, NW Regional Lead for Sexual Health with the Health Protection Agency, said: “Although the drop is modest this is the time we’ve seen a decrease in STIs in over 10 years so it is an important milestone. For the first time ever we have seen chlamydia diagnoses stabilise when testing for that particular infection is at its highest ever, thanks to community based testing through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme. These are very early days but we hope that this is the beginning of a downward trend.

“It is particularly encouraging to see a decline in some STIs among young people, however, these latest figures show that the impact of STI diagnoses is still unacceptably high in this group. Studies suggest that those who become infected may be more likely to have unsafe sex or lack the skills and confidence to negotiate safer sex.

“These encouraging decreases do not however mean we can rest on our laurels.

“Prevention efforts, such as greater STI screening coverage and easier access to sexual health services, should be sustained and continue to focus on groups at highest risk. To reduce the risk of STIs, the HPA recommends using a condom when having sex with a new partner and continuing to do so until you both have been screened.

“The HPA also recommends that sexually active under 25 year olds should be tested for chlamydia every year or sooner if they change their partner. Today’s figures suggest that the drive to encourage regular testing for STIs may be having an impact on STI rates but it’s too soon to know if this is definitely the case. In any case, the sooner people are diagnosed and treated the less likely they are to pass on the infection or to develop complications later.”

Nationally, there were 189,612 newly-diagnosed cases of chlamydia last year.