PHE’s ‘Protect Against STIs’ campaign highlights the increased likelihood of contracting a life-changing STI if people have sex without a condom (Photo: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images).
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Latest statistics from Public Health England (PHE) shows that a case of chlamydia or gonorrhoea is diagnosed in a young person every minute in England.

There were over 144,000 diagnoses of these sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in people aged 15 to 24 in 2017.

PHE’s ‘Protect Against STIs’ campaign highlights the increased likelihood of contracting a life-changing STI if people have sex without a condom. The impact of having an STI is significant, particularly if left untreated as they can cause major health issues, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, swollen or painful testicles, and reactive arthritis. In pregnant women, STIs can lead to higher risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

The majority of STIs (like chlamydia) are symptomless, and gonorrhoea is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics and at risk of becoming untreatable in the future. PHE’s campaign, therefore, encourages condom use, as prevention is better than cure.

Rates of STIs in England remain high across England, and there has been a significant year-on-year increase in certain cases like gonorrhoea (22 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017).

In 2017, there were approximately 420,000 diagnoses of STIs in England and of those, chlamydia accounted for nearly half of them (200,000 diagnosis of chlamydia and over 44,000 diagnoses of gonorrhoea).

A large proportion of these STI diagnoses are amongst young people aged 15 to 24, who account for 63 per cent of chlamydia diagnoses and 37 per cent of gonorrhoea diagnoses.

In a bid to get the nation’s young adults talking about and having safe sex, TV personality Sam Thompson (who appears in Made in Chelsea and Celebs Go Dating) hits the streets to find out young people’s attitudes to sexual health and condom use.

In the first of two new films, Sam Thompson and Dr Sara Kayat visit a Further Education College to speak to young people about how much they know about sexual health.

Sam then heads to Warwick with Dr Joe Peterson Camp, to meet a number of students to talk to them about their own experiences of sexual health and uncover their attitude towards condoms.

Dr Hamish Mohammed, a Consultant STI Scientist at Public Health England, said, “young people are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI than people aged 25 and older. STIs present a real threat to young people, and without using condoms, young people are putting themselves and their partners at risk of getting an STI.”

The campaign launches on October 25 with a nationwide social media, digital audio, out of home advertising and PR campaign targeted at 16 to 24-year-olds. It is being supported by a range of partners, including the Family Planning Association (FPA) and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH).