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Young women 'vulnerable to STIs'

Young women are "particularly vulnerable" to picking up sexually transmitted infections (STIs), experts have warned.

Figures showed almost half a million (482,696) new cases of STIs were diagnosed in the UK last year, up almost 12,000 on the previous year.

Of these, young adults account for most new cases but there are also concerns about infections among gay men.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA), which collected the figures, said more needed to be be done to encourage people to practise safe sex.

Two-thirds of new STI cases in women were among under-25s, including 73% of new cases of gonorrhoea in women and 66% of new cases of genital warts.

Some 88% of new cases of chlamydia - the most common STI in the UK - in women were found in the same age group.

Re-infection is also an issue, with at least 11% of 16 to 19-year-old women in England becoming re-infected with an STI within one year of being treated for a previous one.

The same is true for young men, with 12% of 16 to 19-year-olds becoming re-infected within one year.

More than half of new STI infections in men are among the under-25s.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the HPA's STI section, said: "These latest figures show that poor sexual health is a serious problem among the UK's young adults and men who have sex with men."

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