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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 00:09 GMT
Teenagers to get safe sex texts
Image of texting
Information will be sent directly to teenagers' phones
Teenagers are being offered a safe sex text messaging service in an attempt to cut pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

The charity Brook hopes the service will provide vital sexual health information to more young people than is currently possible.

Infections, contraception and counselling are among the topics covered by the information service.

Figures indicate one in 10 young people has already had sex by the age of 14.

Statistics also suggest about 10% of UK adults have had a sexually transmitted infection.

Overall, 708,083 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were diagnosed with an STI in 2003.

Teenage pregnancies

By texting BROOK HELP to 81222, users will receive a menu of options, giving them access to automated information on key sexual health topics, including STIs, contraception and counselling, or details of their nearest young people's sexual health service.

It's time for a guarantee that every young person will receive comprehensive sex and relationships education
Jan Barlow,
Brook chief executive

Jan Barlow, chief executive of Brook, said: "Our new texting service will mean more young people have the facts literally at their fingertips, giving them an alternative to our existing confidential online and helpline inquiry services.

"Technology has come a long way in the 40 years since Brook was established, and we aim to make the most of those changes."

She said the UK had higher rates of teenage pregnancy than anywhere else in Western Europe and that young people were increasingly likely to get an STIs - particularly chlamydia.

One in five men in their early 20s in England has chlamydia, Health Protection Agency figures indicate.

Ms Barlow said: "It's staggering that whether you get any decent education about sex and relationships depends on where you happen to live.

"It's time for a guarantee that every young person will receive comprehensive sex and relationships education as a compulsory part of the national curriculum.

"This, combined with easy access to free and confidential sexual health services, is absolutely key to bringing down rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections."

Sexually Transmitted Infections
New cases reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Disease Cases 2002 Cases 2003 Change
Chlamydia 82,558 89,818 9%
Genital herpes 18,432 17,990 -2%
Genital warts 69,569 70,883 2%
Gonorrhoea 25,065 24,309 -3%
Syphilis 1,232 1,575 28%
Source: Health Protection Agency




SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Teen pregnancy and confidentiality
31 Jul 04 |  Nottinghamshire


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