North Somerset youngsters' chlamydia rates highest in South West

PUBLISHED: 13:00 09 June 2012

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SEXUALLY-TRANSMITTED infections are on the increase in North Somerset - with youngsters' chlamydia diagnosis rates the highest in the South West.

Overall, acute STI diagnoses per 100,000 people in North Somerset increased 3.4 per cent year-on-year from 2010-11, with the rise even larger at 8.8 per cent when comparing 2009 to 2011.

Rates of new chlamydia diagnoses amongst those aged 15-24 in the area are up 31 per cent for 2011 from 2009 and are the highest out of 37 local authorities in the South West when population is taken into account, at 3,614.2 per 100,000 of the population.

North Somerset is still fifth-highest for youngsters’ chlamydia when not taking population size into account within figures which include Bristol, Plymouth and Swindon.

The area is also the ninth-highest local authority in the South West for overall rates of acute sexually-transmitted infection diagnoses per 100,000 of the population (STIs).

The figures, released by the Health Protection Agency, show a general picture of increasing infection rates across both North Somerset and the South West as a whole.

Steve Jones, regional manager for the Terrence Higgins Trust in the West of England, said: “These figures represent a step backwards for the nation’s sexual health. Young people continue to bear the brunt of sexual ill health.

“For years we have been warning that not enough was being done to reduce STIs and this is now clearer than ever.

“Sexual health services are due to be transferred to Local Authorities in April 2013 as part of the NHS changes. The commissioning of sexual health services is already in a state of flux and uncertainty and this is likely to worsen over the next 18 months.

“These figures show us that the NHS cannot afford to take its foot off the pedal on sexual health now. Equally, local authorities have to prepare for the challenge that is coming their way.

“Investment in sexual health has to be maintained over the next few years in order to avoid much greater costs in the future.”

Among the 25 and over age group in North Somerset, chlamydia was down 14.9 per cent in 2011 compared to 2009.

Herpes is up 12.86 per cent across all age groups for the same timeframe, while diagnoses of warts are up 5.7 per cent – although this is down slightly on 2010, when a peak of 104.6 people per 100,000 of the population had the condition.

Similarly, youngsters’ chlamydia figures are a 4.9 per cent improvement on 2010, when 3,801.1 youngsters per 100,000 people had the disease - but are still almost a third higher than the 2,891.8 recorded for 2009.

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