9 August 2007
By Dr Ami Sweetman
from Southwark PCT
This week is sexual health week run by the Family Planning Association, the UK's leading sexual health charity.
It aims to increase awareness of sexual health problems and to encourage people to look after their wellbeing.
Sexual health is a priority for us in Southwark because we have higher rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital warts and HIV compared to the rest of the country.
There are also high rates of unplanned pregnancy among young women locally.
Groups that are at high risk include people under 24, gay men and black and minority ethnic groups.
All sexual infections can be passed on by having sex without a condom. Frequently people will not show any
symptoms of infections for a long time until they develop complications such as infertility in women, pelvic pain, cancer of the cervix (base of the womb) and if a woman is already pregnant it can harm the unborn baby. And not practicing safe sex can lead to an unwanted pregnancy.
Practice safe sex - use a condom. It's the best way to avoid sexually transmitted infections, along with having fewer sexual partners.
If you are worried, you can get in touch with your local GUM clinic (Genitourinary Medicine) or SRH (Sexual and Reproductive Health) clinic who can offer free advice and support for all aspects of sexual health and contraception, including free condoms.
There is a brand new sexual health clinic on Denmark Hill that is definitely worth a visit! Alternatively your GP can also offer guidance and many pharmacies in Southwark offer free emergency contraception (morning after pill) and free chlamydia testing.
To find your local NHS sexual health service phone NHS direct on 0845 4647.
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