NHS responds to Hackney having highest rate of sex infections in England

High rates due to better screening, health bosses say

HEALTH BOSSES have released a statement after new figures showed Hackney had the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in England.

Research released yesterday (August 25) by the Health Protection Agency shows the rate of infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes is higher in the area covered by City and Hackney Primary Care Trust than in any other PCT in the country.

There were 2335 STI diagnoses per 100,000 people in Hackney in 2009 – far higher than the rate of 1637 per 100,000 in neighbouring Tower Hamlets and 1782 per 100,000 people in Islington.

The report mainly highlights and increase in chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnoses in under 25s.

A NHS spokeswoman said Hackney was an overcrowded inner city borough with high levels of deprivation, and a very young active and mobile population.

But Hackney’s Deputy director of public health Dr Jose Figueroa said the PCT was aware of the high rates of STIs in the borough and that this was partly due to young people having better access to testing.

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“In recent years the offer of sexual health screening has increased dramatically in Hackney and the City,” he said.

“During 09/10 we screened 27.5% of our young sexually active population. Screening was adequately targeted and positivity rates were high at 7.5%. Early diagnosis is critical, as it means patients get access to appropriate treatment quickly.”

Second to Hackney is Lambeth with 2329 diagnoses per 100,000 people.

Almost three quarters of the PCTs featuring in the top 20 are London boroughs.

This is the first time the HPA can provide the new STI infection figures by local area of residence in England.

They show that 15 to 24 year olds, particularly young women, continue to be the group most affected by STIs.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the HPA’s STI section said: “These latest figures show that poor sexual health is a serious problem among the UK’s young adults and men who have sex with men.

“These figures also highlight the vulnerability of young women. Many studies have shown that young adults are more likely to have unsafe sex and often they lack the skills and confidence to negotiate safer sex.

“Re-infection is also a worrying issue - the numbers we’re seeing in teenagers are of particular concern as this suggests teenagers are repeatedly putting their own, as well as others, long term health at risk from STIs.”

Anyone who needs information or advice can go to www.sho-me.nhs.uk.