SOUTHAMPTON remains one of the worst places in the country for cases of chlamydia, new figures have revealed.
According to Public Health England, just over 18,000 new cases of sexually transmitted infections were recorded in Hampshire and the wider Wessex area last year, a drop of 1,000 on the previous annual total.
The figures come a year after the launch of the Keep Calm and Get Tested campaign by Solent NHS Trust and the Daily Echo to raise awareness of the infection and encourage screenings.
Chlamydia, which can cause infertility if untreated, was found in 1,071 people in 2013, up from 1,007 in 2012.
And the new figures reveal a massive 745 cases were found in those aged 16-24, or around 75 per cent of the total.
Meanwhile Portsmouth was closest to Southampton's total with 1,005 cases while Bournemouth reported 901.
Solent, which provides free, confidential specialist sexual health advice, said the figures show more people are using their services.
Dr David Rowen, Clinical Director for Sexual Health Services at the Trust, said: “These figures underline the importance of promoting sexual health at any opportunity.
"As a provider of sexual health services across Hampshire, we are encouraged by the numbers of people who are accessing services - and we see the slight increase in those testing positive as a direct result of our campaigns to raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections and signposting to our clinics for testing.
"We continue to find new and innovative ways to engage with residents, regardless of age, to help them make better decisions about their sexual health.”
He added media campaigns like Keep Calm and Get Tested were vital to encourage people to take proper precautions.
Dr Rowen added: “Tackling the spread of sexually transmitted infections is a challenge that requires partnership working, and as a local NHS organisation leading on the provision of Sexual Health Services, we are ready, willing and able to work with like-minded organisations.”
Meanwhile sexual health service provider Marie Stopes urged for more information to be taught in schools to avoid infections.
Director of policy Genevieve Edwards said: "If we want to see the rate of infections coming down in the future, we must put good quality, age appropriate relationships and sex education on the national curriculum now. It's high time we gave all young people the skills and confidence to enjoy healthy relationships.
“With almost half a million infections diagnosed last year, the message remains the same whatever your age. Have fun but stay safe, and stay healthy. Remember condoms can protect against infections and unwanted pregnancy.”
But figures for other STIs - gonorrhoea, herpes, warts and syphilis - were all lower in Southampton than in 2012.
Just nine cases of syphilis were discovered in the city last year and 383 of genital warts, 61 less than the previous year.
And the city saw a slight overall drop in all new STI cases from 2,501 in 2012 to 2,430.