Safe sex call as STIS rise

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE -

NHS La­nark­shire has is­sued a syphilis warn­ing fol­low­ing a rise in the num­ber of cases di­ag­nosed by its sex­ual health ser­vice.

The in­crease has been most marked in het­ero­sex­ual men and women aged over 20, and in gay and bi­sex­ual men.

The health board has launched a fes­tive pub­lic aware­ness so­cial me­dia cam­paign to pro­mote safer sex and pre­vent fur­ther in­fec­tions oc­cur­ring and to en­cour­age any­one who may have put them­selves at risk to see their GP or at­tend a sex­ual health clinic in or­der to be as­sessed and tested.

Even though an in­crease in the num­ber of cases of syphilis in 16-20 year olds has not been seen, the cam­paign will also tar­get this group.

Dr John Lo­gan, NHS La­nark­shire con­sul­tant in pub­lic health medicine, said: “The fes­tive party sea­son is of­ten as­so­ci­ated with an in­crease in risk­tak­ing sex­ual be­hav­iour.

“Some peo­ple are not aware of the risk of syphilis or see it as an in­fec­tion of the past.

“That’s not the case and with an in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple in La­nark­shire be­ing di­ag­nosed with syphilis, we feel it is im­por­tant to high­light to peo­ple the risks of un­pro­tected sex.

“Al­though the num­ber of cases is rel­a­tively small – in La­nark­shire in 2017 there were 19 cases of het­ero­sex­u­ally ac­quired syphilis and 48 cases in men who have sex with men – La­nark­shire res­i­dents, who make up about 12 per cent of the Scot­tish pop­u­la­tion, ac­counted for one third of the het­ero­sex­ual cases in Scot­land in 2017.

“We want peo­ple to be aware of what syphilis is, how it can be pre­vented and treated, and what the harm­ful longterm im­pact of un­treated syphilis in­fec­tion can be.”

Syphilis is a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion that af­fects both men and women and is passed on eas­ily by un­pro­tected sex.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about syphilis and where to ac­cess sex­ual health clin­ics for test­ing, visit www. La­nark­shiresyphilis.org

Cam­paign Dr Anne Mclel­lan, Tr­ish Tougher, Jacque­line Mar­tin and Dr Lo­gan

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