Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 06:55 UK

Sharp rise in teen sex diseases

Condom factory worker
The children's commissioner called for better sex education

Cases of sexually-transmitted diseases among young people in NI have risen sharply, according to new figures.

In 2006, more than 750 cases were diagnosed in people aged between 16 and 19, while about 30 cases of STDs were found in children under 16.

The children's commissioner has called for an urgent improvement in sexual health services for young people.

Patricia Lewsley said sexual health clinics were often difficult to access for children in rural areas.

The commissioner said those living in Fermanagh, for instance, would have to travel more then 60 miles to their nearest clinic and that most clinics only open during school or college hours.

"Surveys have shown that as many a quarter of young people have had their first sexual experience before they are 16," she said.

"There is no education or information for many of these young people in whatever arena they are in."

Mrs Lewsley added that while the number of under-17s having babies fell last year to 142, it was still too high.

The Department of Health said it would publish a strategy on sexual health promotion shortly.


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