Concern over rise in diseases

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The number of new cases of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Lancashire has rocketed, figures show.

Despite overall new diagnoses of STIs having fallen by six per cent, cases of Gonorrhoea and Herpes have both shot up.

Public Health England’s annual figures on STIs in Cumbria and Lancashire show that cases of Gonorrhoea and Herpes have increased by 13 per cent each but Syphilis cases decreased by 22 per cent and Chlamydia decreased by 8 per cent.

Daisy Ellis, acting policy director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “It is concerning to see an increase in the rates of gonorrhoea and herpes in Cumbria and Lancashire, which suggests that the safer sex message isn’t getting through to everyone. This is a further reminder that the current approach to sex education in schools is not fit for purpose, leaving too many young people unprepared for the pressures of modern relationships.

“Taught properly, sex and relationships education has been shown to delay sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase the use of condoms and other contraception.

“Young people will continue to bear the brunt of sexual ill health until we have a high-quality programme of sex and relationships education taught in all schools.”

Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s director of public health, said: “We are pleased that the overall number of STIs reported in Lancashire has fallen by 6%. However, there has been an increase in gonorrhoea and herpes which we want to address.

“We have worked with other organisations to encourage more people to be tested for STIs and improve detection rates to help reduce the spread of STIs.

“We’re improving testing services so that people can book STI checks at community clinics closer to their homes during the day and at evenings. We’re also introducing a single number that people can call to book appointments and will be continuing the chlamydia screening programme.

“We’re continuing to promote the safe sex message. In the last 12 months we’ve added 94 new sites where free condoms will be available across the county including pharmacies, community facilities and places used by young people.

“It’s vital that people of all ages understand the safe sex message. We’re working with our schools to help improve sex education for young people.

“Some measures the county council is putting in place, with support from schools across the county, include web pages giving online guidance and teaching resources; a training programme on ‘healthy relationships’ for teachers; providing support for schools from specialist services; and introducing e-learning programmes covering sexual health for schools, county council staff, and those who work with young people from other organisations.”