Concerns over number of teens with sex infections

Doctors have treated 125 cases of sexually transmitted infections in under 16s in the past six years, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety figures show that an alarming number of children across Northern Ireland are putting their lives at risk by having unprotected sex, while at the same time breaking the law by having sex under the legal age.

The majority of cases diagnosed were chlamydia, with 75 between 2003 and 2008, which can cause serious health and reproductive problems if left untreated.

In women, the chlamydia infection can spread to the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). In men, chlamydia can cause the urethra or prostate gland to become infected.

Fifty children in Northern Ireland were diagnosed with genital warts between 2003 and 2008. They are caused by a group of viruses called human papillomavirus (HPV). A person who has been exposed to genital warts may have warts appear any time from several weeks to several months after exposure.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “Sexual health for all age groups is an important health issue.”

“The promotion of good sexual health and prevention of sexual ill-health is not just a matter for health professionals, others including educational professionals, communities, the family, churches and other faith groups, all have an important role to play.”

However, chair of the Stormont Health Committee, Iris Robinson, voiced concerns over the approach taken by Mr McGimpsey in tackling the problem.