THE sexual health of the Sunderland public is going under the microscope.
It comes as part of National Sexual Health Week, after a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the North East last year.
Health bosses say that cases of gonorrhoea went up by 40 per cent in the region, from 749 in 2011 to 1,055 in 2012.
During the same time, in Sunderland there were more than 2,200 recorded diagnoses of STIs.
Health bosses are now hoping to raise awareness of the importance of having protected sex with new partners.
The five most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infections on Wearside continue to be chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes and genital warts.
Most are treatable with a course of antibiotics, but they can lead to serious long-term health issues, including cervical cancer and infertility, if left untreated.
Nonnie Crawford, Sunderland’s director of public health, said: “It’s really important that anyone who thinks they may have an STI or put themselves at risk of contracting one should get it checked out as soon as possible.
“Sexually transmitted infections are preventable, so it’s essential 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.”
The GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) service at Sunderland Royal Hospital provides drop-in and appointment based clinics for people who think they may have an STI and can be contacted on 569 9021.
Contraceptive and sexual health services are also available across the city, providing access to contraceptive choices and some STI testing.
For more information, go to www.nhs.uk/conditions/Sexually-transmitted-infections/Pages/Introduction.aspx.