Sexually transmitted infections more common in East End

Sexually transmitted infections are more prevalent in the East End than almost all other parts of the country, the latest health figures show.

London has some of the highest rates of gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes and other infections in England and Tower Hamlets is among the six worst hit boroughs.

There are almost 1,800 people suffering from acute STIs in the borough among every 100,000 of the population, the Health Protection Agency’s statistics for 2010 show.

The London average is 1,200 cases and it is around half that for England.

Rates of infection tend to be higher in urban areas with large populations.

The two most at risk groups are young people and men who have sex with men.

Almost two thirds of syphilis diagnoses and nearly 40 per cent of cases of gonorrhoea in London last year were among men having sex with men.

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Expert in STI trends in London, Dr Paul Crook, said: “Poor sexual health continues to be a problem in teenagers and young adults in London. They may be more likely to have unsafe sex or lack the skills and confidence to negotiate safer sex.

“Consistent condom use and testing is also particularly important for men who have sex with men.”

He added that sexually active under-25s should be tested for chlamydia every year or sooner if they change their partner.

Esther Trenchard Mabere Co-Director of Public Health for Tower Hamlets said: “Tower Hamlets, like many inner city boroughs, has high rates of sexually transmitted infection (STI) especially amongst some young people, gay men and people of African origin. Over the last few years we have increased access to both condoms, prevention awareness campaigns and STI screening services through primary care; community health services; and in specialist GUM services.

“STI screening, and where appropriate treatment, is free, confidential and should be part of your health routine especially following unsafe sex or recent partner change. Don’t wait until you feel or see signs and symptoms of STIs – many STIs e.g. Chlamydia in both men and women often have no symptoms. Using condoms is still the most effective way of avoiding STIs and a wide range of condoms are available free from both GPs and sexual health clinics.”