Suffolk: Experts urge people to get tested for STIs as cases rise 27% in three years

Alan Murray, Suffolk County Councils cabinet member for health and adult care, said abortions shoul

Alan Murray, Suffolk County Councils cabinet member for health and adult care, said abortions should not be used for the failure of contraception. - Credit: Archant

The number of sexually transmitted infections in Suffolk has risen by 27% in only three years – while cases of gonorrhoea leapt by nearly 80%.

According to figures published by Public Health England, there were 4,137 STIs in the county in 2012 compared with 2009 when 3,248 cases were detected.

The data shows a spike in the number of those aged under 25 are putting themselves at risk through unsafe sex.

But while cases have risen in the last three years, experts are quick to point out that the problem in Suffolk is relatively low.

The sharpest rise was seen in the number of cases of gonorrhoea, which increased from 58 in 2009 to 104 last year. That equates to 14 people per 100,000 of the population, compared with 46 per 100,000 nationally.

Experts say high transmission rates of the disease are particularly concerning as antibiotic resistance to gonorrhoea grows.

To help reduce the risk of STIs, experts advise always using a condom when having sex with new partners, reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships.

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They also urged people in high-risk groups to get tested regularly.

Councillor Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, said: “While there have been more STI cases reported in Suffolk this year, the numbers are actually and proportionately very low.

“Under-25-year-olds still experience the highest rates of STIs.

“In Suffolk we have an effective chlamydia screening programme where young adults are advised to test for chlamydia annually, or if their sexual partner changes.

“Making access to sexual health services easier has been a priority in Suffolk and we will continue to focus on the groups that are at highest risk.

“Regular screening for HIV and STIs can lead to early identification and treatment so I’d urge people to make sure they’re checked.”

Rachael Toner, service manager at the Terrence Higgins Trust in Suffolk, urged people to include regular tests as part of their annual health checks.

“It is best to get tested every year, or whenever you change sexual partner,” she said.

“The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested, many like chlamydia and gonorrhoea don’t have symptoms in the majority of cases.

“Testing is completely confidential, painless and very easy.

“There are serious complications in very long-term undiagnosed conditions but the biggest problem is people passing it on to others because they don’t know they have the infection.”