More sex infections in young people

Sexually transmitted diseases amongst children have rocketed in the past five years, while nearly half of teenage pregnancies in Norfolk end in abortion.

Sexually-transmitted diseases among children have rocketed in the past five years, while nearly half of teenage pregnancies in Norfolk end in abortion.

The number of diagnoses of sex infections (STIs) among under-16s in England rose by 58pc from 2,474 in 2003 to 3,913 in 2007.

The biggest increase was in cases of chlamydia, the most common sexually-transmitted infection, which rose by 90pc, with genital herpes up by 42pc and genital warts by a third. Cases of syphilis doubled from three to six.

Some of the increase in chlamydia may be because more cases are being picked up through the national screening programme.

The figures were released by the government in a parliamentary answer to North Norfolk MP and Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb.

He said: "The number of youngsters contacting STIs is very disturbing. Children must be informed about the risks involved in sexual relationships and taught how to be safe. 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."

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Figures for the under-25s in this region show that STIs have soared in the last 10 years. Chlamydia diagnoses have trebled from 2,229 in 1998 to 6,664 in 2007; gonorrhoea is up 50pc from 274 to 410; and syphilis has increased from two cases to 14, although the number of cases peaked in 2005 at 26 cases.

Meanwhile, new figures show that nearly half of teenage pregnancies in Norfolk have resulted in abortion. Pregnant under-18s had abortions in 43pc of cases, though this is behind the national average of 51pc.

Julie Hughes, NHS Norfolk's sexual health commissioning manager, said: "NHS Norfolk promotes the choices available to all pregnant women, including those under the age of 18.

"As part of this, we commission termination of pregnancy coun-selling for young women to use which enables them to make informed decisions about the future of their pregnancy.

"NHS Norfolk's sexual health strategy aims to continue to improve access to sexual health and contra-ceptive services across our area, particularly for young people, which means young people are able to access information and contra-ception easier than ever before."