Diagnoses of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) remain high across England (420,000 cases in 2016), particularly among young people and in 2016, the majority (51%) of new STI diagnosis were in young adults aged 15-24. These infections are not without potential health risks, as leaving an STI untreated can cause serious health issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease, swollen or painful testicles, arthritis, infertility and even meningitis.

On Friday 15th December, Public Health England will launch a new campaign to raise awareness of the risks of STIs with a particular focus on two of the most prevalent infections chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

 In 2016, 141,000 diagnoses of chlamydia and gonorrhoea were made with people aged 15-24 and the campaign seeks to ultimately reduce the rates of these STIs through increased condom use.

As many cases of STIs have no symptoms, including seven in 10 cases of chlamydia, they should be taken seriously. Due to the symptomless nature of the infections, and the potential risk of these going undiagnosed, there is a real need for young people to practice safe sex and reduce the spread of STIs.

To find out more about STIs and condom use, visit www.nhs.uk/protect-against-stis-use-a-condom/home

  • One in 10 sexually active 16-24 year olds have never used a condom
  • One in three (35%) think carrying condoms gives the impression that you sleep around
  • Nearly six in 10 of all chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnoses in 2016 were in people aged 15 to 24
  • New campaign from Public Health England features personal stories from young people talking about contracting an STI and why they did not use protection
  • The ‘Protect against STIs’  campaign wants to encourage condom use to prevent young adults contracting and spreading STIs
Comment from Dr Sara Kayat, TV doctor and campaign supporter

“Using a condom is the safest way to ensure that you avoid contracting an STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.  As many STIs are symptomless, in particular seven in 10 cases of chlamydia, they can be serious if left untreated and even lead to infertility. As I tell patients in my clinic in every week, it’s just not worth putting yourself at risk by not using a condom.” 

Comment from Jesse, aged 24 from London who contracted chlamydia and gonorrhoea in the past

“I’ve had both chlamydia and gonorrhea in the past when I didn’t use a condom and it wasn’t a nice experience. The symptoms were pretty awful and included pain in my groin and discomfort when urinating. The worst of it though was having to tell my previous and current sexual partner that I had contracted the STIs, so they could also get checked and treated if necessary. I had symptoms, but I know there are so many people who don’t so now when having sex with someone new I’ve learnt to use a condom."

Comment from Gwenda Hughes, Head of STI surveillance at Public Health England

“Rates of STIs among young people continue to be too high and it is concerning that many sexually active young people are not using condoms with new partners. Six in 10 chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnoses are in young people under 25, so we need to remind young people of the importance of using condoms with a new or casual partner to help prevent infection. Anyone who thinks they have been at risk of an STI should make sure to get tested.”

Comment from Durex

"STI rates remain consistency high in England, but we want young people to know that sex can be fun and safe if you wear a condom. There is still a perception for many that condoms reduce pleasure and fun, but condoms can be a key part of positive sexual activity as they help protect against STIs, some of which can cause long-lasting damage. Through this campaign, Durex wants to help educate young people around condom use and STIs.”