New figures released from the Government yesterday unveil the scary statistics of sexually transmitted diseases in children under 16.
Figures of underage children being infected with STD’s in England shot up a worrying 58 per cent between 2003 and 2007 from 2,474 to 3,913 in 2007.
The majority of growth in cases stemmed from those infected with chlamydia - the most common sexually transmitted infection, which went up by 90 per cent. Cases of genital warts went up 33 per cent while those with genital herpes rose by 42 per cent. Syphilis - now a very rare disease - even doubled going from three cases to six.
However health officials are not becoming overly concerned as they feel the figures represent better screening facilities rather than actual increases in cases.
There are a number of systems in place to ensure sufficient chlamydia testing is happening across the UK including a National Chlamydia Screening Programme, testing in community contraceptive clinics and even through postal testing kits and pharmacies.
A spokesman from the Department of Health said, “The programme has helped us to screen an increasing number of people for chlamydia. Since 2008, all primary care trusts have been reporting to the programme, which accounts for the recent increase in reported cases.”
Mr Lamb said, “This shocking increase is a damning indictment of the Government’s complacency when it comes to the sexual health of our children. The number of youngsters contracting sexually transmitted infections is very disturbing. Children must be informed about the risks involved in sexual relationships and taught how to be safe.”
It is not just underage children who are seeing a rise in infections however, as records show an all time high in the number of cases across all age groups, with experts concerned that better treatment, screening or education is not enough to tackle the problem.
Figures, which run up to 2007, show an overall increase of 6 per cent with 397,990 new cases. Nearly 50 per cent of patients were aged 16 to 24, who make up only 12 per cent of the population.
Young people are more vulnerable to sex infections due to the fact they have sex more often, take multiple partners and enter casual relationships.
Professor Peter Borriello, a former director of the Centre for Infections at the Health Protection Agency, has previously voiced his concerns about the problems associated with casual sex.
“For young people a casual shag is part of the territory, it’s a part of life. Increasingly a shag now stands for syphilis, herpes, anal warts and gonnorhoea. If you are going to go swimming and dive in the pool, make sure you know how to swim and be safe – which means wear a condom,” he said.
However he added all age groups find the advice difficult to follow. “A chance encounter, a few too many drinks, peer pressure – to say to someone of 16 in a first encounter they should ask about condoms – that is not an easy thing to get across. In giving such messages we have to ask, to what extent would we follow them?”