If you are planning to soak up the summer sun abroad or holiday at home, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding those who are sexually active to be smart: Protect your sexual health, and that of your partner, by being safe and getting tested if you have put yourself at risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
The most recent figures for Northern Ireland (2010)* show that new STI diagnoses increased by 6%, compared to 2009. New HIV diagnoses rose by 20%, (to 79 new cases), and the number of people living with HIV infection, increased by 12% compared with 2009 (to 474 people). The diagnoses of the other main sexually transmitted infections also increased.
Of the new HIV cases in 2010, for 1 in 3, the likely source was through sex between men and women, the majority of whom acquired their infection abroad.
Dr Bernadette Cullen, Consultant in Public Health, PHA, said: “We want to remind sexually active people of the dangers of HIV and STIs, and the importance of safer sex practices, particularly when they are in holiday mood and perhaps in a more relaxed environment.
“Untreated STIs can result in serious health issues such as infertility. While it may be thought that young people and men who have sex with men (MSM) are particularly at risk, the safer sex message applies to everyone.
“We know people may be infected with HIV and STIs without having any symptoms, so it is important to protect yourself and to stop the spread of infection to others. Use condoms, limit the number of sexual partners, and get checked at your GP surgery or your local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic, if you have put yourself at risk.”
For information or advice on STIs, or to discuss any sexual health issue, contact your local GUM clinic or your GP.
Further information can also be obtained from the ‘Health Protection’ Directorate on the PHA website. You can also download the PHA booklet Don't gamble with your sexual health, from the ‘Publications’ section of this website, along with information on local GUM clinics.
For further media information contact the Public Health Agency on 028 9055 3663
Notes to the editor
- GUM clinics in Northern Ireland
- Belfast Trust
- Genitourinary Medicine, Level 3 Outpatients Department, Royal Group Hospitals, Grosvenor Road, Belfast. BT12 6BA. Tel: (028) 9063 6477/648
- Northern Trust
- Genitourinary Medicine, Outpatients Department 2, Causeway Hospital, 4 Newbridge Road, Coleraine. BT52 1HS. Tel: (028) 7034 6028, (028) 7034 787
- South Eastern Trust
- Sexual Health Clinic, Outpatients Dept, Downe Hospital, 2 Struell Wells Road, Downpatrick. BT30 6RL Appointments Tel: (028) 44838133; Nurse Advice Tel: (028) 4483 8392
- Monday - Bangor Community Hospital. Tel: (028) 4483 813
- Southern Trust
- Genitourinary Medicine, John Mitchell Place, Hill Street, Newry. BT34 2BU. Tel: (028) 3083 4215, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tuesday - Clinical Zone, Ground Floor, Portadown Health & Care Centre, Tavanagh Avenue, Portadown. BT62 3BE
- Western Trust :
- Genitourinary Medicine, Anderson House, Glenshane Road, Londonderry. BT47 1SB. Tel: (028) 7161 1269
- Sexual Health Clinic, Outpatients Dept, Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh. BT79 0AP. Tel(028) 8283 3189
*The diagnoses of the other main sexually transmitted infections also increased in 2010:
- uncomplicated gonorrhoea increased by 13%;
- genital herpes simplex (first episode) increased by 18%;
- genital warts (first episode) increased by 2%;
- non-specific genital infection increased by 14%;
- infectious syphilis increased of 4%.
* HIV and STI surveillance in Northern Ireland 2011. An analysis of data for the calendar year 2010.