A funding cut has forced Planned Parenthood Ottawa to close down a youth education program about sexually transmitted infections at a time when the threat of STIs is at a 10-year high.

The agency said United Way will no longer pay for the community education program, even after Ottawa's Public Health Department warned earlier this year that the incidence of STIs such as Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are at their highest in a decade.

"It's very disappointing. It will be a challenging blow," said Heather Holland, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Ottawa.

The agency has sent volunteers to schools since 1975 to talk to students about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, but Planned Parenthood feels the end of United Way's $50,000 grant could mean fewer young people will get the message about safe sex.

Lawrence Greenspon, who chairs the community services cabinet at United Way, said the cuts were made in order to refocus funding on other areas, such as early literary projects to help children succeed at school.

Planned Parenthood said it has received several dozen pledges of money since the funding cut announcement, and hopes to continue the program if enough donations come through.