Sexual Health Wednesday April 20, 2011

Why are STI infection rates so high amongst young people?

In 2009 the number of new STI cases in young people exceeded 482,600. According to the Health Protection Agency, two-thirds of new cases were in young women.

Last year an investigation by the Guardian looked at why the rate of STIs is so high with young people in the UK. A student called Callum told the Guardian that a lot of the information young people get about sex and relationships is from films or the internet, which is often inaccurate or unrealistic.

The Guardian found that young people would agree with Callum. Many feel sex education in the UK isn’t good enough, and pupils aren’t taught enough about STIs even if they’re shown how to use contraception properly.

“Knowing how to use a condom doesn’t mean you’re going to use a condom,” Charlie, who works for City YMCA, told the Guardian. She believes that the way young men talk about condoms in groups makes young women unwilling to use them, which contributes to the escalating cases of STIs.

Gillian Vanhegan and Jules Hillier, who work for sexual health charity Brook, both agree that alcohol also has an impact on young people failing to practice safe sex. The NHS explains that alcohol can affect your judgement, which means that you’ll do things you wouldn’t normally do, including having unprotected sex. This could explain why young people who understand the importance of safe sex and the risks of catching STIs are still continuing to catch and spread these infections.

Whilst STIs are easy to prevent, thanks to effective barrier contraceptives, they’re also easy to diagnose and treat. If you are sexually active, you should have regular STI tests to ensure you haven’t caught any kind of infection. This will not only stop an STI from damaging your health, but also prevent you from infecting any partners too.

Many young people don’t feel comfortable seeing their GP or walking into a sexual health clinic to have a test, but if you have an undiagnosed STI and you don’t treat it, it can cause a range of complications that can result in infertility, increase your risk of contracting HIV or AIDS or cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

That’s why many people choose to buy their STI home tests online. It’s a simple process that involves posting am STI test to you, allowing you to provide a sample in your own home and then posting it back to a laboratory for free. Once tested, you’ll be given the results and if your test is positive, a doctor will recommend medication that will treat the STI, which you can also buy online.

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