Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 11:01 UK

Gonorrhoea down as herpes rises

Chlamydia remains the most common STI

The number of gonorrhoea and syphilis infections has fallen, latest figures for the UK show, although diagnoses of genital warts and herpes are up.

Statistics from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed the number of new gonorrhoea infections was the lowest in nearly a decade.

Overall sexually transmitted infections was up last year by 0.5%, mostly due to the increase in herpes and warts.

Those aged between 16 to 24 are still disproportionately affected by STIs.

While just 12% of the UK population falls into this age group, they account for more than half of all new STIs diagnosed in the UK.

They saw 65% of new diagnoses of chlamydia, which remains the most common STI - with a total of 123,018 cases.

However the rise in the number of infections with this disease, which can cause infertility if not treated, has slowed markedly.

'More' condoms

The HPA suggested the significant rise in the number of herpes and warps diagnoses was probably down to the the greater use of more sensitive tests.

"Early detection is vital for both men and women as some infections, particularly chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital herpes, can often have no symptoms. This means people may be unaware that they are infected and can pass the infection on to others," the HPA said in a statement.

"We need to continue to encourage safer sex, including condom use, to help reduce the spread of STIs. We also recommend that anyone with a new or casual sexual partner gets tested regularly at a GUM clinic or through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme."

To coincide with the publication of the latest figures, Unicef has released a study looking at young people's attitudes to sexual health.

It found fear of pregnancy was a much greater concern for young people than STIs, which means they may stop using condoms once they start using the most effective forms of contraception.

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