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STI diagnosed in a young person every four minutes in England

Cases of gonorrhoea, in particular, are on the rise

Olivia Petter
Thursday 25 October 2018 14:31 BST
Sam Thompson discusses STI's for Public Health England

Sexually transmitted infections are diagnosed in 400 young adults every day, new data from Public Health England (PHE) reveals, which is the equivalent to one every four minutes.

There were more than 144,000 cases of chlamydia or gonorrhoea in 15 - 24 year olds in 2017 and PHE officials claim that these numbers might be on the rise.

According to the figures, this age group accounted for 63 per cent of chlamydia diagnoses in the country last year.

PHE pointed out that cases of gonorrhoea have been steadily rising in recent years, with a 22 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017, something the health officials attribute to new strains of the STI becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Both chlamydia and gonorrhoea are usually symptom-less, which can leave many cases undiagnosed for long periods of time.

If left untreated, STIs can cause a number of major health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, swollen or painful testicles, and reactive arthritis.

In pregnant women, STIs can increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

PHE’s Protect Against STIs campaign, which is fronted by Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson, aims to encourage young people to protect themselves against STIs by using condoms.

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“STIs present a real threat to young people, and without using condoms, they are putting themselves and their partners at risk of getting an STI,” said Dr Hamish Mohammed, consultant STI Scientist at PHE.

Speaking to The Independent, Dr Sarah Walsh, co-founder of HANX condoms, explains how STIs might be no the rise because of the stigma attached to them.

“This can prevent people from getting tested, or stop them from using a condom to protect themselves, or even notifying their partner if they have been exposed to an STI.”

Walsh went on to explain how taboos surrounding STIs propagate the myth that contracting one is a sign of promiscuity, which contributes to the culture of shame surrounding these conditions.

But she insists that these stigmas are illogical.

“It only takes one sexual partner to get an STI, they are common, easily treatable and at the end of the day they are infections like any other.”

As for why cases are increasing, Walsh claims this might have something to do with contemporary dating culture.

“With the rise of dating apps, we are also dating more, often having multiple partners at the same time, meaning the risk of spreading infections is much greater.”

In order to combat the stigma, the sexual health medic suggests making improvements to sex education in schools.

"We need to teach not only the positive aspects of healthy sex but also that STIs are common and easily treatable."

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