Sex: Young people gambling with their lives

Dominic Wiggan A DOCTOR has accused young people of gambling with their lives as NHS staff battle annual rises in sexually transmitted diseases, including the HIV virus. Figures from the North East London Health Protection Unit show there was 417 cases of HIV in Barking

Dominic Wiggan

A DOCTOR has accused young people of gambling with their lives as NHS staff battle annual rises in sexually transmitted diseases, including the HIV virus.

Figures from the North East London Health Protection Unit show there was 417 cases of HIV in Barking and Dagenham in 2006, with the majority of victims female.

Statistics also show most victims are of black African origin and there has been a steady rise in infections between 2002 and 2006.


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Dr Alex Hooi said: "We are seeing year-on-year rises in sexually transmitted infections, with HIV cases doubling.

"It is very worrying because people are not taking the simple precaution of wearing a condom, which is the only effective way of preventing infection.

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"There is still a mentality of 'it won't happen to me', but you are just playing Russian roulette with your health."

Dr Hooi helped to set up a sexual health clinic used by all primary care trusts in the north east London area, at Barking Hospital's Sydenham Centre, Upney Lane, Barking, in the early 1990s.

Patients receive screening and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV, as well as sexual health advice.

Sex assault victims receive counselling, while prostitutes often seek advice.

Dr Hooi believes the landscape of sexual health has changed dramatically in the past 18 years, but serious cases are still all too common.

He revealed only last week a teenage boy tested positive for HIV. He said: "Cases like that are tragic, but so easily avoidable. However, with the right medication, that young man has a good chance of living as long as you or me.

"HIV is not the death sentence it was 20 years ago and can be controlled by medication.

"Anyone of any age concerned they might have picked up an infection is free to come and have a chat with us. We are here to treat people, not judge them and I'm very proud of the team I work with."

To contact the centre, telephone 020 8924 6250.

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