Warning to students as STIs increase

editorial image

Derry’s student population has been urged to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Public Health Agency (PHA) figures show that, across the north, overall, new STI diagnoses increased by 6% compared with figures for 2009. While uncomplicated Chlamydia infections showed a slight decline from 2009 (down by 4%), diagnoses of the other main infections increased.

The PHA say the student population are particularly at risk.

Dr Neil Irvine, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, said: “We want to remind students about the risks of HIV and STIs, given that young people and men who have sex with men are particularly at risk.

“Use condoms, including for oral sex, limit your number of sexual partners, and get checked at your GP surgery or your local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic, if you have put yourself at risk. The clinic provides both treatment and medication - free of charge.

“If you have put yourself at risk by having unprotected sex, you should have a check up as it will help put your mind at ease.

“Anyone who has vaginal, anal or oral sex can catch or spread STIs, but not everyone will develop symptoms. If not treated early, some STIs can do permanent damage to your health.

“If you have sex with more than one partner, or with someone whose sexual history you do not know, you are putting yourself at risk, as you are linked to all the people your sexual partner has had sex with.”

The PHA figures show cases of genital herpes have risen by 18%, gonorrhoea by 13%, and genital warts by 2%.