Doncaster’s sex disease rate fears

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Doncaster is the third worst place in the region for rates of sexual disease, it was revealed today.

More than 2,500 cases of sexually transmitted infections were reported in the borough by health chiefs last year.

Chlamydia was the most prevalent STI, with 1,314 cases, but there were also hundreds of cases of genital warts, according to statistics released by the Public Health England body. Only Leeds and Rotherham in the Yorkshire and Humber region have a higher rate of STIs.

The ‘league table’ shows Leeds has just over 1,000 cases per 100,000 of population; Rotherham has 949.5; while Doncaster has 832.2 per 100,000.

The figures show medics in Doncaster diagnosed 2,644 STI cases in 2012, which are broken down as 1,314 chlamydia, 440 genital warts, 236 herpes, 47 gonorrhoea, and only two cases of syphillis.

Experts says the figures show too many people are having unsafe sex.

Doncaster’s director of public health, Tony Baxter, said: “It is a concern that rates of sexually transmitted infections overall remain high in Doncaster although rates of syphilis and genital warts have come down over the last three years. In 2012, Doncaster achieved the Government target to reduce Chlamydia prevalence within the population.

“Doncaster’s Sexual Health Partnership - a collaboration of sexual health service providers which will report to the Health and Wellbeing Board - has a work plan to improve the sexual health of the residents of Doncaster.

“There are initiatives targeting those populations most at risk, for example working with educational systems to support and enhance relationship and sex education, and train the wider workforce in brief sexual health interventions.

“Other initiatives such as the distribution of free condoms through GPs and the provision of local community sexual health clinics ensure residents have access to quality advice and resources in order to maintain good sexual health.”

More than 36,400 new sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed in Yorkshire and the Humber in 2012 according to Public Health England data.

But Yorkshire and the Humber had the lowest rate among PHE Centres in the north region; with a rate of 688.5 cases per 100,000 people in the population, against 899.3 per 100,000 in Greater Manchester, 828.3 per 100,000 in the North East, 767.8 per 100,000 in Cheshire & Merseyside and 720.3 in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Dr Suzanna Mathew, PHE lead for STI surveillance in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “These data show too many people are continuing to have unsafe sex, put themselves at risk of STIs and the serious consequences associated with infection, including infertility.

“Ongoing investment in programmes to increase sexual health awareness, condom use and testing, particularly for groups at most risk, is vital.

“Public Health England is committed to continuing to improve sexual health, with a focus on the groups most at risk, and will continue to provide local authorities and clinical commissioning groups with data on local health needs, coupled with evidence-based advice on STI prevention and sexual health promotion approaches, to improve risk awareness and encourage safer sexual behaviours.

“Getting screened for HIV and STIs can lead to early diagnosis and treatment, as often these infections have no symptoms. In addition, reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships can reduce the risk of being infected with an STI.”