Health Minister warns of increase in STIs
HEALTH Minister, Edwin Poots has warned of an increase in sexually transmitted infections in Northern Ireland.
Mr Poots said that there is a growing problem with rates of sexually transmitted infections on the increase.
“I am concerned that over the past 10 years the number of new STI diagnoses in Northern Ireland has increased by 31 per cent,” he said.
The Health Survey for Northern Ireland 2011/12 has highlighted that almost a third (32%) of respondents said that drinking alcohol has contributed to them having sex without using condoms.
Mr Poots added: “At this time of year in particular, I urge everyone, especially our young people, to be responsible, avoid risk-taking behaviour and treat their bodies and others with respect.”
During 2010 there were 7,838 new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in Genito-Urinary Medicine clinics in Northern Ireland.
During 2010, 54% of new STI diagnoses for which age group information is available occurred in young people under the age of 25.
One of the key objectives contained in the Department’s Sexual Health Promotion Strategy is to reduce the incidence of STIs.
Mr Poots added: “There are serious consequences of poor sexual health. STIs can have long-term effects on people’s lives, with possible complications such as infertility; ectopic pregnancy; cervical cancer and other genital cancers.
“It can also affect a person’s mental health and well-being, resulting in, for example, low self esteem and relationship difficulties.”
The Health Survey 2011/12 has also highlighted that only 21% of male respondents strongly agreed that they were unlikely to have sex with a new partner without using condoms, with the figure being lower again for younger men.
Less than a fifth of respondents had sought information on STIs including HIV; and men are more likely to use the internet as a source of information and advice on sexually transmitted infections.
Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, said: “I am concerned there is a lack of knowledge and awareness of sexually transmitted infections including HIV. With proper information and knowledge people are more likely to avoid risky behaviour, use contraception, know what services are available and be more likely to use them.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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