Numbers of people struck with a sexual diseases in the West Midlands has continued to rise above the national average, latest annual figures showed.

Gay men and young people heading out for boozy, carefree holidays are now being warned they are the most at risk of catching dangerous infections from gonorrhoea to chlamydia, which could leave them infertile.

There were 29,527 new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the region throughout 2008, compared to 29,330 the previous year, the Health Protection Agency reported.

Despite the 0.7 per cent increase in the West Midlands, higher than the 0.5 per cent rise nationally, there was a mixed bag of results with an increase in herpes, that has now shot up by nearly 50 per cent over the past five years counteracted by a fall in cases of gonorrhoea and syphilis, reduced by 11 and 17 per cent respectively in a year.

Victoria Sheard, from Terrence Higgins Trust in the West Midlands, said: “It’s good that rates of gonorrhoea have dropped overall, but STIs are still rising in some groups, notably gay men.

“Cases of herpes in the West Midlands have increased 14 per cent in the past year, and 47 per cent over the past five years.”

The HPA is urging young people to ensure they pack protection when they jet off on holiday this summer as it is still the 16 to 24 year old age group which account for the burden of STIs.