Issues - Sex - Sex diseases rise
Rates of sexually transmitted infections are continuing to
increase, with a 4 per cent jump in England, Wales and Northern
Ireland last year, figures revealed today.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said cases of the most
common STI chlamydia ? often called the silent infection because
it can have no symptoms ? increased by 9 per cent in 2003.
But the agency said there were signs that the rate of increase
in sexual diseases was slowing.
The latest statistics revealed that the number of new cases
of gonorrhoea fell by 3 per cent.
Around 700,000 people are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted
disease every year, with numbers rising rapidly during the
Rising rates have been blamed on complacency over the use
of condoms and people having more sexual partners.
Sexual health campaigners have also blamed delays in receiving
treatment and long waits at genito?urinary medicine (GUM)
Nick Partridge, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust,
said: "It's no surprise that the figures are continuing
to rise, given the excessive waiting times at many sexual
"The NHS has failed to prioritise sexual health and HIV,
and these figures are an indictment of their inaction.
"The situation is shameful - we know how to tackle sexual
ill-health, but a lack of national and local focus is stopping
this from happening.
"More investment in new types of local services would
quickly improve the nation's sexual health."
The sexual health charity called on the Government to act,
with a reduction in sexual health clinic waiting times to
48 hours and new, community-based, easy access HIV and STI
They also said there should be "greatly improved"
sex education for young people and new local targets to improve
Jan Barlow, chief executive of the Brook Advisory Centres
group, said the rate of increase in sexually transmitted infections
was slowing down.
She told BBC Radio Five Live: "We need to keep getting
the message out that basically anyone who has unprotected
sex is putting themselves at risk of infection."
Many women only discover they contracted chlamydia when they
try for a baby in later years because there are often no symptoms.
"Because the infection has been left too long, it has
made them infertile," she said.
She added that more needed to be done to highlight the problem
of sexually transmitted infections, particularly among young