Wigan gripped by sexual infection crisis

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WIGAN has the second highest number of people with sexually transmitted infections in Greater Manchester.

Figures released by Public Health England show that last year, 2,585 adults in the borough had contracted diseases as a result of unprotected sex.

Wigan was behind Manchester, which had 7,321 and was ahead of Salford, which had 2,582 diagnoses reported.

However, Wigan recorded the highest positive cases of chlamydia in the region in the 15-24 year-old group with a 2,664.3 diagnosis rate per 100,000.

And while Wigan was fourth worst in terms of rates of all diagnoses per 100,000, reaching, 812.6, it falls below the region’s average of 899.

Data reveals that the numbers of people developing STIs in the borough had increased over the last four years,

Numbers of chlamydia in Wigan had risen from 1,127 in 2009 to 1,332 in 2012; a total of 62 residents had contracted gonorrhoea in 2009, compared with latest figures of 139; herpes numbers had shot up from 87 to 192; and the number of people with genital warts had increased from 426 in 2009 to 528 last year.

The only infection to see a decline is syphilis, with three people in 2009, rising to nine in 2011 and falling to seven last year.

But as the data reflects only diagnoses which have been reported, it is expected that the true figures may be higher.

Dr Kate Ardern, director of public health for Wigan borough, said: “Together, Wigan Council and Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) are committed to improving the sexual health of its residents.

“A number of sexual health and contraception services are available borough wide and have been improved in recent years to encourage people to use them.

“As a result of redesigning and relocating both Brook Young Peoples Service and the SHINE Integrated Sexual Health Service, we’re seeing more and more people come through the doors, taking responsibility for their own positive sexual health.

“It could very well be that because we’re testing more people, we’re seeing an increase in statistics – evidencing the effectiveness of the local screening programme.

“By identifying and treating high numbers of infection now, we’re reducing the chances of the infection spreading – the effect of which (reduced numbers) will become apparent in a few years.

“With the exception of syphilis, Wigan has seen increases in STI diagnosis, similar to those across Greater Manchester, but overall, at 812 per 100,000 population, Wigan has lower STI rates than Greater Manchester at 899.

“I’d like to urge all those who are sexually active to book a check-up at one of their local clinics. Catching the infection early could reduce its impact later on in life.”