Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Sex Diseases Soaring in London

Sex disease cases soar in capital
By Jason Beattie And Rebecca Smith, Evening Standard
9 November 2004

The number of Londoners suffering sexually transmitted diseases has risen by
more than a third, new figures reveal.
They show that cases of infections soared between 1997 and last year, from
169,721 cases to 228,641. The final figure could be higher as some clinics
have still to submit information.
The rise has embarrassed ministers, amid calls for a highprofile,
well-funded sexual health campaign. Of particular concern is the rise in
chlamydia among the young - it can show no symptoms but leads to infertility
in men and women if left untreated.
One in eight men and one in 10 women are thought to have chlamydia, a rate
estimated to be even higher among those in their early twenties. The figures
show the number of sexually transmitted-infections (STIs) diagnosedin each
of London's primary-care trusts. The rise may be due to better clinics
seeing more people, population differences, and education.
But the figures do not specify where patients live. This explains the high
rate for Camden, which is home to University College Hospital, as people
often visit clinics outside their boroughs to ensure secrecy. MP Sarah
Teather, who un-earthed the figures, said sexual health had been left out of
government priorities for the NHS.
"Ministers have dithered and delayed," said the Liberal Democrat MP for
Brent East. "The NHS needs to focus on prevention, not just treating
symptoms. The answer has to be better education about sex within the context
of relationships, and more accessible sexual health clinics."
The Health Department said millions had been spent on a sexual health
strategy, the "first ever" such plan in Britain. A spokesman said: "Rates of
STIs tend to be higher in large urban areas. It is encouraging that the rate
of increase has slowed."
A spokesman for fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, called the
figures "alarming" and said sexual health services were underfunded.