STI rates continue to rocket among young

There has been a 58 per cent increase in cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) amongst under-16s in the last five years, it has emerged.

According to national health bodies, the number of STIs among youngsters rose by 58 per cent from 2,474 in 2003 to 3,913 in 2007.

This significant rise in cases of STIs among young people comes despite millions of pounds spent on failed Government sexual health policies.

In February the Department of Health said it would plough a further £20.5 million into the provision of sex clinics and advertising campaigns.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Norman Lamb, who obtained the figures through a written parliamentary question called them “very disturbing”.

He said: “This shocking increase is a damning indictment of the Government’s complacency when it comes to the sexual health of our children.”

However, Mr Lamb’s solution was more information for young people about how to “be safe” in sexual relationships.

Evidence suggests that increasing provision of information about sex and contraception is not working to tackle STIs and pregnancy rates among teenagers.

David Paton, Professor at Nottingham University Business School told a gathering of parliamentarians and political officials earlier this year that the Government’s £250 million Teenage Pregnancy Strategy had been “absolutely disastrous.”

Prof Paton highlighted statistical evidence showing that since the strategy began diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases had increased, while the rate of decline in pregnancy had slowed.

He said: “The hope was the more money you spend the faster and faster the declines – in fact we have seen the opposite, the declines have decreased.”

Many have argued that a lack of moral guidance on sex and relationships for teenagers has contributed to the rise in STIs.

Last month the Archbishop of Wales hit out at values-free sex education policies, whilst Labour MP Tom Harris accused the goverment of lacking moral leadership on the issue.

This followed the ‘advice’ of the government in February that parents should discuss sex with their children without “trying to convince them” of what is right and wrong.

The Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy aimed to cut the 1998 figure for teen conceptions in half by 2010 but is likely to fall desperately short of this target.

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