Figures show STI increase

The number of people being diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) rose by two per cent between 2005 and 2006, new figures show.

The fourth annual report from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reveals that 376,508 STIs were diagnosed in genitourinary medicine clinics in 2006, with chlamydia increasing by four percent, genital warts up three per cent, and genital herpes rising by nine per cent.

However, diagnoses of syphilis and gonorrhoea both fell by one per cent, prompting Professor Pat Troop to describe the report as "mixed news".

"The good news is that gonorrhoea has gone down again, but the worrying picture is that of increasing levels of viral STIs like herpes and warts and in particular in young adults," the professor said.

"It is important to remember that herpes infections are carried for life and, although the symptoms are treatable, many people will continue to suffer from recurrences."

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the agency's STI section, stressed the importance of using contraception to help prevent STIs.

Dr Hughes also emphasised the importance of screening programmes, such as the National Chlamydia Screening Programme, in enabling early diagnosis and control of infections.

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