AN ALARMING rise in the number of people in Hyndburn with HIV and AIDS has been revealed in a new report.
The study, produced by Liverpool John Moores University, has sparked an urgent warning from doctors, who blame poor education in schools.
It says more people in East Lancashire are receiving treatment for the illnesses than ever before, with the number of cases in Hyndburn almost doubling.
And it claims a greater number of youngsters are contracting HIV from holiday romances abroad, pointing out that over the last two years heterosexuals have been affected more than other groups.
Between 2001 and 2003, the number of people seeking treatment in Hynd-burn and the Ribble Valley rose sharply from 14 to 26.
Qutub Syed, North West director of the Health Protection Agency (HPA), warned: "We need to shake young people out of their complacency about sexual health and remind them that sexually transmitted diseases are very serious indeed.
"HIV is not something that happened in the 1980s. It is a growing problem now. Gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis are also serious health hazards that can be avoided by safer sex."
Dr John Astbury, Accrington consultant for the HPA, said: "I think the figures for Hyndburn reflect a rising national trend for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
"It is generally recognised that education in schools has fallen off and people have become more complacent about sex. We are trying to promote the message that if you are not sure about your partner, you must use condoms to protect yourself."
Professor Mark Bellis, director of the Centre for Public Health, said: "We have now reached the stage in the North West where over 80 people find out they have a sexually transmitted infection every day. The time for a frank discussion of sexual health in families, schools and the media is long overdue."