Shock rise in sex diseases

THE shocking rise in sexually transmitted diseases among young people in the East of England has been branded “deeply worrying” by an MP.

Annie Davidson

THE shocking rise in sexually transmitted diseases among young people in the East of England has been branded “deeply worrying” by an MP.

Simon Burns, the MP for West Chelmsford, spoke out after figures were released which showed increases in Chlamydia, Syphilis and Gonorrhoea over the last ten years.

Mr Burns said the figures were “disturbing and worrying” as they suggested “that many young people are either ignorant of safe sex or just not bothering to protect themselves and their sexual partners”.

The statistics from 1998 onwards showed the disease of Chlamydia had trebled to 6,664, Gonorrhoea was up by 49.6% and Syphilis had increased from 2 to 14 cases.

Mr Burns said: “It is deeply worrying that in the last ten years sexually transmitted illnesses (STI) amongst under 25-year-olds in the East of England have soared.”

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Alison Woolnough, senior public health specialist at NHS North East Essex, said: “Whilst there is no doubt that we are treating increasing numbers of people for STIs, an element of this increase is undoubtedly down to the fact that we are carrying out an increasingly effective screening programme which has the effect of uncovering more STI cases.

“We have been raising awareness of Chlamydia - that it is easy to carry and transmit without knowing it, and that it can have serious long term effects if not treated.

“But we're also telling people how easy it is to get tested for it, and to be treated if necessary.

“We have been recognised by the Strategic Health Authority, NHS East of England, as the top performing NHS organisation in the East of England in terms of the number of screening tests carried out and we are determined to continue this progress.

“We have also embarked on an innovative campaign which involves 31,000 young people across North East Essex receiving a free chlamydia screening kit through the post.”

Dr Divine Nzuobontane, consultant for public health improvement for NHS Mid Essex, said: “We welcome Mr Burns' comments about the importance of young people taking steps to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia.

“Sexually Transmitted Infections are increasing across the country and it is vital we do all we can to address this.

“Screening programmes and regular testing are an important part of this.

“It is particularly important that young people take regular tests for Chlamydia as many individuals will not have any symptoms and therefore will not know they are infected.

“Earlier this year for example we sent 30,000 do-it-yourself screening kits to the homes of young men and women across mid Essex; outreach workers approached youths in pubs and bars to raise awareness and encourage testing; and an effective marketing campaign was launched to break the taboos and encourage more young people to get tested.

“We are pleased to report our efforts have been a tremendous success and we smashed through our nationally-set target for the number of screens a full five weeks ahead of schedule.”