The number of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) among under-16s has risen sharply in the past five years, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
The figures, released in answer to a Parliamentary Question, show that:
STI diagnoses among under-16s have risen by 58% to 3,913 between 2003-7
Diagnoses of chlamydia are up 90%
Genital herpes are up 42%
Genital warts are up by one third
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman 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 STIs is very disturbing. Children must be warned about the risks involved in sexual relationships. The Government has slashed public health spending over recent years. This short-sightedness is putting a whole generation at risk of a sexual health crisis.”
Phillip Kell, Consultant Physician from the British Society for Sexual Medicine thinks there are several issues.
1. Many young people are having unsafe sex. This is exemplified by the STI figures and by the rates of pregnancy in this age group. 2. Some of the rise in STIs is due to better case finding eg: the national chlamydia screening campaign. 3. In order to address the needs of the under-16s many sexual medicine services throughout the country now have services aimed specifically at this age group providing both a medical and contraceptive service. 4. Perhaps more controversially teenage sexual activity is not a medical issue but a sociological phenomena and until society’s attitudes change the issues with STIs and teenage conception will not alter.