Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gay men 'continue to top list' in contracting STIs

Figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) this morning have shown that the state of sexual health among the UK population is poor, with STI rates reaching record levels. The figures have also revealed that gay men are of partcular concern.

Terrence Higgins Trust’s Chief Executive Sir Nick Partridge said: "It’s staggering that almost half a million people each year are affected by preventable sexually transmitted infections. Gay men continue to top the list, accounting for two thirds of syphilis and over a third of gonorrhoea diagnoses last year, while being only 6% of the population.

"We know about the risks of HIV transmission and these figures show that it’s just as important to be aware of STIs too. Getting an STI, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea, makes it much easier to pick up or pass on other, more serious infections, including HIV."

The Terrence Higgins Trust run several STI prevention campaigns, including Young and Free, which seeks to encourage young people to get tested for chlamydia, an STI that can often go unoticed because of the relative lack of symptoms, but can lead to serious problems if left untreated.

According to the HPA's figures, chlamydia among gay men and men who have sex with men has risen 341 per cent in the last ten years.

Mr Partridge added: "We know how to reduce the risks: enjoy safer sex, use condoms, and if you’ve had unsafe sex go to a GUM or community testing clinic. All sexually active gay men should have a full sexual health screen and an HIV test at least once a year. We can – and we must – improve our sexual health."

The rise in popularity of websites such as Gaydar and the new Grindr iPhone app have been cited as possible contributing factors to the rising STI statistics among gay men.

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