A LACK of proper sex education in schools has contributed to an increase in some sexually transmitted infections in East Lancashire, according to a charity.
Despite an overall reduction in the rate of new STIs, figures published by Public Health England showed herpes rates have doubled in Hyndburn and Pendle since 2009, while Burnley had the second highest proportion of herpes cases out of 20 boroughs in Lancashire and Cumbria.
The rate of gonorrhoea cases doubled in Burnley and Chorley, while Blackburn with Darwen also saw a sharp increase.
Daisy Ellis, acting policy director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “It is concerning to see an increase in the rates of gonorrhoea and herpes in Lancashire, which suggests that the safer sex message isn’t getting through to everyone.
“This is a further reminder that the current approach to sex education in schools is not fit for purpose, leaving too many young people unprepared for the pressures of modern relationships.
“Taught properly, sex and relationships education has been shown to delay sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase the use of condoms and other contraception.”
Herpes rates jumped from 55 to 79 per 100,000 of population in Burnley from 2009 to 2013, 39 to 78 in Hyndburn, 28 to 58 in Pendle, and 59 to 74 in Rossendale.
Over the same period, gonorrhoea rates increased from 13 to 25 per 100,000 in Burnley, 12 to 28 in Chorley and 13 to 19 in Blackburn with Darwen.
The figures showed an overall reduction in STI rates, also including genital warts, syphilis and chlamydia, in Blackburn with Darwen, from 798 cases per 100,000 in 2009, to 547 per 100,000 in 2013.
The overall STI rate in the rest of Lancashire reduced from 804 to 738 per 100,000.
Public Health England said increased STI testing in sexual health clinics in recent years, particularly among men, as well as the routine use of more sensitive diagnostic tests will partly explain the increases in herpes and gonorrhoea, although ‘ongoing unsafe sexual behaviour will have played an additional role’.