Dramatic increase in sex infections
RATES of sexually transmitted infections are soaring in east Suffolk, it can be revealed today.New figures released by Ipswich Hospital's Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic show diagnoses of gonorrhoea, herpes and genital warts have risen in the last five years in people of all ages.
RATES of sexually transmitted infections are soaring in east Suffolk, it can be revealed today.
New figures released by Ipswich Hospital's Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic show diagnoses of gonorrhoea, herpes and genital warts have risen in the last five years in people of all ages.
At least one person a day in the Ipswich area is diagnosed with chlamydia and while older people have higher rates of herpes, youngsters under 16 are also being found to have infections including gonorrhoea and genital warts.
Jeremy Ransome, lead sexual health nurse at Ipswich Hospital, said: "It is down to risk-taking behaviour, multiple partners, unprotected sex etc.
"The English as a nation are becoming a lot less repressed about sex which is good in some ways as it leaves people with no hang-ups, but it is obviously a huge part of the problem as well."
Gonorrhoea has risen the most rapidly with the number of cases diagnosed shooting up from just 18 in 2000 to 120 in 2004.
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Unprotected oral sex has been pinpointed as one of the major areas of passing on infection.
Mr Ransome said: "It can be transmitted through oral sex and that is what catches a lot of people out.
"They do not realise the dangers and are having unprotected oral sex.
"At the end of the day it's a very cheap, very small piece of rubber we are talking about but it can save an awful lot of upset."
The figures are divided into age groups and while most of the STIs are more common in 16-25 year olds there are increasing numbers of people aged 36 and over being diagnosed with an infection.
Herpes is particularly prevalent in the older age group with 47 people aged 36+ being diagnosed in 2004 compared to 57 aged 16-25.
Calls for better sex education have now been made in a bid to beat the problem.
A spokeswoman for Brook Advisory Services, a young person's charity specialising in sexual health and teenage pregnancy, said: "What we need to see is comprehensive sex and relationship education in schools.
"We live in a climate now where young people are all bombarded with images of sex from an early age. This can lead them to thinking it's something that everyone is doing but they may find that people are actually not talking about it openly at home or at school and this can lead to confusion."
Mr Ransome said he recognises a visit to the clinic may seem like a daunting prospect but urged anyone with worries about their sexual health to make an appointment.
He said: "I have literally seen people walk up to the door, put their hand on it and then turn around and walk away again, but once people have actually been they realise we are not here to judge them.
"We are not here to moralise, we are literally just here to help."
Ipswich Hospital's sexual health department can be contacted on 01473 711011.
Or you can call the NHS Sexual Health Line free on 0800 567 123 for more information.