Health warning over rise in STIs

Published Wednesday, 19 December 2012
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A health warning has been issued over a dramatic 28% increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Northern Ireland.

Health warning over rise in STIs
The number of people diagnosed with an STI has increased significantly. (© Getty)

The jump in diagnoses was recorded between 2000 to 2011.

Almost 7,700 new cases were diagnosed in Genito-Urinary Medicine clinics across the region last year.

Drinking alcohol contributed to having sex without using condoms in almost a third of respondents to the Health Survey for Northern Ireland 2011/12.

Health Minister Edwin Poots described the rise as a "growing problem."

He added: "At this time of year in particular, I urge everyone, especially our young people, to be responsible, avoid risk-taking behaviour and treat their bodies and others with respect."

Only 21% of male respondents to the survey strongly agreed that they were unlikely to have sex with a new partner without using condoms.

The percentage was lower again for younger men surveyed.

One of the key objectives contained in the department's Sexual Health Promotion Strategy is to reduce the incidence of STIs.

"There are serious consequences of poor sexual health. STIs can have long-term effects on people's lives, with possible complications such as infertility; ectopic pregnancy; cervical cancer and other genital cancers," the minister added.

"It can also affect a person's mental health and well-being, resulting in, for example, low self esteem and relationship difficulties."

In relation to awareness of sexual health, less than a fifth of those surveyed had sought information on STIs including HIV.

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, said the lack of knowledge and awareness concerned him.

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"With proper information and knowledge people are more likely to avoid risky behaviour, use contraception, know what services are available and be more likely to use them".
© UTV News
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