SHOCKING statistics have revealed an unprecedented increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the North West.
The rise is more prevalent in Greater Manchester but a disturbing increase has also taken place in Cheshire.
The GUM Clinic at the Countess of Chester Hospital alone has seen a rise in Chlamydia cases of almost 500% since 1995 while the amount of cases of syphilis, herpes and gonorrhoea has also rocketed.
And the number of HIV patients across Chester has increased by 14%, though the number of new cases this year has fallen by 5%.
Regional sexual health chiefs are calling for better education and have pleaded with film makers and TV producers to be more responsible.
Professor John Ashton, North West regional director of public health, said: 'We keep hammering home the safer sex message and warning young people that unprotected sex with a new partner is a lottery.
'Yet on film and television people jump into bed together with no reference to condoms or any other form of protection - and there are no consequences. In real life, James Bond, who never appeared to use condoms, would almost certainly be HIV positive by the end of his career.'
He continued: 'Unfortunately young people in particular are influenced by what they see on film and television. Programme makers, whether for film or television, need to be more responsible about how they portray sex.
'Take Big Brother. The impression is given that two people, who know little or nothing about each other's history, are having sex under a table. The producers are culpable in my view. They have put viewing figures above social responsibility and they deserve to be held to account for it.'
A North West Regional Sexual Health Task Force spokesman said: 'These figures show how much there is to do to improve sexual health.
'The task force is working hard to support Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and services throughout the region, for example by improving access to genitourinary medicine clinics and disseminating guidance to clinicians on Chlamydia screening.
'However, the main message is the need for prevention. Changing risky behaviour is a challenge. We need to get more people using condoms and we need to make sure that young people are well informed about sexual health.'
About 80 people in the region find out that they have a sexually transmitted infection every single day.
At the Countess of Chester Hospital last year 505 people were diagnosed with Chlamydia compared to 108 in 1995.
In the past five years, the number of syphilis cases at the hospital rose from nought to six; diagnosis of gonorrhoea went up from 21 to 65; herpes increased by 75 to 154 and cases of genital warts went up from 313 to 409.
The North West genitourinary medicine (GUM) Clinics recorded 109,000 first patient attendances in 2003. Nearly 13,500 Chlamydia cases were reported - a rise of 260% since 1995; more than 2,800 cases of gonorrhoea were reported - a 200% increase; 202 syphilis cases were reported - a 1,500% and a 9% increase in genital warts was recorded.
Nationally, Chlamydia has increased by 9%; syphilis by 28%; gonorrhoea decreased by 3%; genital warts increased by 2% and genital herpes decreased by 2% this year.