Numbers of sexually transmitted infections in the UK continue to increase

The greatest burden of STIs falls among young people

This morning’s publication of the 2008 sexually transmitted infection (STI) statistics from the Health Protection Agency show that overall, diagnoses of STIs increased last year by 0.5%, mostly due to increases in genital herpes and genital warts. An 11% decrease in new gonorrhoea infections and a 4% decrease in syphilis were also reported. The greatest burden of STIs continues to fall among young people (aged 16 to 24 years), who are disproportionately affected by STIs. Leading sexual health agency Marie Stopes International issues the following statement:

“The decrease in new diagnoses of gonorrhoea and syphilis is extremely positive, and suggests that in areas where local interventions such as the provision of sexual health information and increased access to barrier methods of contraception are implemented, reductions in sexually transmitted infections can be achieved.

“However, the overall increase of diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections is of concern, made even more alarming by the fact that the true prevalence of sexually transmitted infections across the UK is likely to be higher than today’s figures indicate, since many infections are symptom free and may remain undetected.

“The particular vulnerability of young people to sexually transmitted infections is of huge concern. It is interesting that today’s data has been released on the same day that the Government closes its public consultation as to whether sex and relationship education should be made compulsory. The figures illustrate that it is crucial to teach young people about relationships and the importance of practicing safe sex even before they become sexually active, and that action must be taken to ensure that sex and relationships education is provided comprehensively and consistently to all young people. Therefore, when young adults do make the decision to become sexually active, they will be equipped with the knowledge, information and skills to be able to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections.

“Individuals, healthcare professionals and educators need to work together to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. It only takes one act of unprotected sex to contract a sexually transmitted infection, so individuals who have ever had unprotected sex may be carrying a sexually transmitted infection. Our advice is to seek medical advice and screening, even if you do not have symptoms.

“Marie Stopes International is committed to preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections and offers contraceptive consultations and sexually transmitted infection testing with an expert sexual health practitioner. To book an appointment please call our 24-hour advice and information line on 0845 300 8090.”

All quotes are attributable to Dr. Kate Worsley, Head of Medical Development, Marie Stopes International.

To view the 2008 STI data please visit:

Categories: United Kingdom; Europe; HIV / STIs; Young people


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