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The BBC's James Westhead
"The evidence of an epidemic"
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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 02:17 GMT 03:17 UK
Safe sex message 'lost'
Dr Patrick French
Dr Patrick French: 'the situation is extremely worrying'
By BBC Health Correspondent James Westhead

A generation of young people is growing up unaware of the safe sex message - and cases of sexually transmitted diseases are rising as a result, say doctors.

Rates of gonorrhoea have risen by 50% in the past year and experts say teenagers are growing up simply unaware of the safe sex warnings which accompanied Aids awareness campaigns in the 1980s.

If something is not done about this we could see levels of sexually transmitted infections continue to rise

Dr Mike Catchpole
The latest figures from the Public Health Laboratory (PHLS) indicate one in ten teenagers are affected with a sexually transmitted disease.

Dr Patrick French, a sexual health consultant in London, blames the rise on ignorance. His clinic sees more cases each year than the whole of Sweden.

He said: "It is extremely worrying. To some extent the 80s generation was the first group of people to talk about sex and safer sex and that was done outside schools in the national campaign.

'Something has got to be done'

"Of course that has waned and perhaps led to the current problems."

PHLS spokesman Dr Mike Catchpole said: "If something is not done about this we could see levels of sexually transmitted infections continue to rise.

"That would be associated with the legacy of problems of infertility and transmission of infection to babies and may well be associated with a rise in cases of HIV."

The Health Education Authority which ran the 1980s Aids campaigns has been shut down and nothing has taken its place, critics warn.

The government is working on a national sexual health strategy which is due to be published later this year.

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See also:

24 Mar 00 | Health
Sex disease cases rise
18 Feb 00 | Health
Gonorrhoea rates rise by 35%
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