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Nearly 500,000 new STIs diagnosed in 2012

New sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses rose by 5% in 2012, according to figures released by Public Health England (PHE).

The continuing high STI rate in England could suggest many people are continuing to practice unsafe sex.

Chlamydia remained the most commonly diagnosed STI, but considerable numbers of genital wards and genital herpes cases were reported last year.

New gonorrhoea cases rose by 21% overall, and by 37% in men who have sex with men (MSM).

Those aged under 25 experienced the highest STI rates, contributing 64% of all chlamydia and 54% of genital warts diagnoses in heterosexuals in 2012.

Young adults should be tested for chlamydia annually or on change of sexual partner, as part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme to control the infection and its complications.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, PHE head of STI surveillance, said: “There have been significant improvements in screening in recent years, particularly for gonorrhoea and chlamydia among young adults and men who have sex with men, so we are diagnosing and treating more infections than ever before.

“We must also ensure chlamydia screening remains widely available. Local authorities should continue to integrate chlamydia screening into broader health services for young adults.

“This will also help this age group develop positive relationships with services, enabling them to develop and maintain good sexual health throughout their lives.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE director of health and wellbeing, said: “We are committed to improving the nation's sexual health, with a focus on the groups most at risk.

“We will provide local authorities and clinical commissioning groups with data on local health needs, coupled with evidence-based advice on STI prevention and sexual health promotion approaches, to improve risk awareness and encourage safer sexual behaviours.”