Sexual infections reach a record high in the UK

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have reached historic levels, and the number of teenage pregnancies is also on the rise.

Newly released figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have revealed that last year there were 482,696 new diagnoses of STIs in the UK.

And experts have expressed alarm at the resurgence of infections such as gonorrhoea, which increased by six per cent, after having previously been in decline.

Pregnancies

This explosion of STIs, which are now at the highest level since records began 30 years ago, has been accompanied by an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown a 6.4 per cent increase in the number of girls under the age of 16 getting pregnant between March and June 2009.

The teen pregnancy rate for girls under the age of consent rose from 7.8 pregnancies per 1,000 girls, to 8.3 per 1,000.

Sexualisation

These figures are likely to fuel concern about the increasing sexualisation of the nation’s children, and the inherent dangers.

The figures from the HPA revealed that those between the ages of 15 and 24, particularly young women, continue to be most affected by STIs in the UK.

And one in ten of those aged between 15 and 24 who are treated at a clinic for an STI return within a year.

Failing

The former Labour Government poured over £300 million into its Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in a bid to halve the teenage pregnancy rate between 1999 and 2010.

However critics accused Labour of encouraging children to have sex, and earlier this week they pleaded with the Coalition to drop the failing strategy and increase parental involvement.

Professor David Paton, an outspoken critic of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, said: “The last Government was trying to put a little sticking plaster over the wound. It was just wasting money.”

Parental

He continued: “There’s quite good evidence that involving parents, for example on abortion decisions for minors, reduces the rate”.

He added: “The last Government’s strategy has been in exactly the opposite direction – that parents don’t have to be informed. The evidence is that it doesn’t work.”

Disaster

And Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, cautioned: “These figures are concerning, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is the growing number of young people engaging in casual recreational sex.”

He added: “The previous Government’s teenage pregnancy strategy has been a disaster.

“With all its emphasis on sex education and handing out contraceptives to school children under the age of consent, it has given them the green light to experiment sexually.”

Re-infection

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the HPA’s STI team, said: “Re-infection is also a worrying issue – the numbers we’re seeing in teenagers are of particular concern as this suggests teenagers are repeatedly putting their own, as well as others, long term health at risk from STIs.”

Earlier this week it was revealed that women who binge drink are more likely to have had unprotected sex and resorted to either an abortion or the morning-after pill.

Research by University College London revealed that binge-drinking women were 40 per cent more likely to have had at least one abortion over the past year.

The study also revealed that women who drink more than the recommended weekly limit, roughly equivalent to seven glasses of wine, were 80 per cent more likely to have used the morning-after pill in the past year.

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