STI rise down to better screening

PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 June 2012

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NHS North Somerset has defended its services following a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), claiming the increase is down to higher screening levels.

Last month it was revealed that acute STI diagnoses have risen 3.4 per cent year-on-year in the district, with a large increase in chlamydia rates among the young in particular.

NHS North Somerset says the rise is down to two causes – an increase in sexual activity and increased screening.

The original figures, released by the Health Protection Agency, show North Somerset is the highest out of 37 local authorities in the South West for chlamydia diagnoses in the 15-24 age group, with 3,614.2 cases per 100,000 people.

North Somerset is also the ninth highest local authority in the South West for overall rates of acute STI diagnoses per 100,000 of the population, according to the figures.

An NHS spokesman said: “Chlamydia is asymptomatic for many years and so detection and therefore recorded rates depend upon screening those who may have contracted the STI.

“North Somerset is particularly good at screening, with 24 per cent of young people aged 15-24 screened in 2010/11 - higher than the South West average of 20.9 per cent.

“Of the young people tested in North Somerset, 8.9 per cent tested positive for chlamydia (compared to 5.2 per cent in England) in 2010/11 and 9.5 per cent tested positive (compared to 7.3 per cent in England).

“This reflects that North Somerset is testing the right target group and not that the area has a higher prevalence.”

She also said the NHS in North Somerset will continue to focus on sexual health, even after health services are combined with North Somerset Council to create an integrated care and health organisation.

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