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UK sexual disease figures rise to new high
  LONDON (Agence de Presse Medicale for Reuters Health) - Britain's doctors called on Tuesday for government action to tackle record-high rates of sexually transmitted infections.
The latest official figures released by the Health Protection Agency show that new diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections rose to 708,083 in Britain last year from 678,709 in 2002.
The British Medical Association warned that genito-urinary clinics are overwhelmed, resulting in long delays for treatment. Thousands of women also risk infertility as chlamydia infections continued to increase.
"It is a scandal that the service we offer patients today is worse than it was 90 years ago," BMA chairman BMA Chairman James Johnson added in a statement.
"During the First World War a free, rapid and totally confidential service was set up to treat sexually transmitted infections. Nearly a century later patients who turn up at GUM clinics can wait up to 6 weeks for an appointment. What use is that?"
Dr. Johnson said the government must "get its act together" to tackle the crisis.
The figures show that chlamydia cases rose by 9% to 89,818, syphilis by 28% to 1575 and genital warts by 2% to 70,883. However gonorrhoea decreased by 3% to 24,309 and genital herpes decreased by 2% to 17,990.
"High-risk sexual behaviour is one of the main factors behind the increase in transmission," the Health Protection Agency said. "Recent syphilis outbreaks among gay and bisexual men, for example, were associated with frequent partner changes and concurrent HIV infection."
Sir William Stewart, Chairman of the Agency, said, "These are all preventable infections and it is a cause of considerable concern that we are still seeing increases in new diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections across the UK and unsafe sex is undoubtedly a main contributor to this."
Dr. Angela Robinson, President of British Association of Sexual Health and HIV said. "The fall in gonorrhoea diagnoses in heterosexuals reflects the prompt action of physicians in changing standard treatment in 2003 in the light of surveillance data from the HPA Gonococcal Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance Programme."
'However, the numbers of patients attending clinics continues to increase...The increased number of infections in men having sex with men will fuel HIV transmission. Prompt access to services for patients is essential if the number of new infections is to be reduced."


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