MORE than 20,000 people in the north east were newly diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) last year according to latest figures by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
A total of 20,602 new cases of STIs were diagnosed in the region compared to 20,567 in 2010.
The five most commonly diagnosed STIs, both nationally and locally, continue to be chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes and genital warts.
In the north east, the most common STI continues to be chlamydia, with 10,724 new cases while the STI which increased the most last year was gonorrhoea with cases rising 28 per cent from 600 in 2010 to 769 in 2011.
Dr Kirsty Foster, sexual health lead for the HPA in the north east, said: “These latest figures show that, in common with the rest of the UK, poor sexual health continues to be a serious problem in the north east.
“The sharp rise in gonorrhoea cases is a particular cause for concern, as we know drug resistance is emerging and we can no longer rely on treatment alone.
“These are all preventable infections and it’s crucial that we continue to communicate messages about safe sex, including condom wearing, and the importance of getting checked out if you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner.
“Quick diagnosis is of the essence, so anyone who thinks they may have put themselves at risk of contracting an STI, or who has symptoms of an STI, should go to their local GUM clinic at the earliest opportunity.”