New figures have shown a rise in the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) being diagnosed across the UK, prompting health experts to issue a stark warning to young people.
People aged 16 to 24 make up just one-eighth of the population, yet they accounted for around half of all newly diagnosed STIs in 2007, figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed. There was a 6% rise in STIs across all age groups between 2006 and 2007.
UK Gum clinics saw 397,990 newly diagnosed STIs across all age groups in 2007 – up on the 375,843 reported in 2006. New cases of genital herpes rose 20%, while there was a 7% rise in genital warts and chlamydia. Meanwhile, new cases of gonorrhoea fell 1%, and there was also a small decline in syphilis of 0.2%.
The highest number of cases of chlamydia and genital warts were seen in young women aged 16 to 19, while among men, the infections were most prevalent among those aged 20 to 24.
Professor Peter Borriello, director of the HPA's centre for infections, said the findings demonstrated a need for a strong message to be delivered to those who engaged in casual encounters without taking proper precautions.