May 19, 2009 / 9:00 AM / 10 years ago

Number of UK children with sex diseases soars

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The number of British children being diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has soared in recent years, according to government figures.

The increase in those under 16 diagnosed with a sexual disease was 58 percent — to 3,913 in 2007 from 2,474 in 2003.

The greatest increase was the number of cases of Chlamydia, the world’s most common STI, with a 90 percent rise in diagnoses, but there was also a rise in the number of cases of genital herpes and genital warts.

The Department of Health said the rise in Chlamydia had emerged because of the setting-up of a national screening program in 2003 which had resulted in greater numbers of people being tested.

Last July, the independent Health Protection Agency reported there had been a 6 percent rise in the number of STIs across Britain, with young people disproportionately affected.

People aged 18-24 form just one in eight of the population but account for around half of all newly diagnosed STIs in the UK, the agency said.

Nearly one in 10 sexually active young women tested by the Chlamydia screening program in England in 2007 were found to have the infection, which can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

One in 12 men were also found to be carrying the disease.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison

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