Data from GUM clinics in the north found that, like the local situation, genital warts and Chlamydia were the most frequently diagnosed conditions.
There were 2,020 new cases of genital warts during 2014, and 1,784 new cases of Chlamydia. There were also 582 cases of Gonorrhea, 415 of Herpes and 41 of Syphilis.
Speaking about how often sexually active people should get screened at the GUM Clinic, Dr Melissa Perry, Western Trust GUM Consultant, said:
For young heterosexual people we recommend a screen every 12 months, but for men who have sex with men (gay or bisexual men) a check up every three months is suggested due to the higher rates of infections. If you have a change of sexual partners and intend to have unprotected sex it is also a good idea for both partners to have a check up before this happens.”
Speaking about the stigma that surrounds STIs and being tested, Dr Perry added: “Raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with HIV and STIs has been a slow process and more work is needed. Only by raising awareness and providing services where people can discuss these issues and obtain testing and treatment can we address sexual health problems effectively. There is now such a variety of ways to seek information, including the internet and social media, it is important that people have a source of reliable and accurate information.
“If you are worried that you may have an STI you should attend the sexual health clinic at Altnagelvin Hospital. We welcome everyone and aim to be able to provide testing and treatment in an efficient and non-judgemental manner in a friendly and confidential environment. No GP referral is needed and services are free of charge to N. I. residents.”
For clinic times check: www.westerntrust.hscni.net.