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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 November, 2019
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Here's how the government is going to help people have safer sex

A whopping 60% of Irish people have never been tested for a sexually transmitted disease.

Image: bed image via Shutterstock

RECENT RESEARCH REVEALED 60% of Irish people have never been tested for a sexually transmitted infection.

Despite this, the number of STI notifications has risen from 3,361 in 1995 to 12,753 in 2013. That’s a rise of 279%.

And 17% of those having sex with someone outside a steady relationship are not using any form of contraception. Some 54% of men in a 2013 survey who had sex with another man did not use a condom.

Today Health Minister Leo Varadkar published Ireland’s first national sexual health strategy and action plan. It outlines measures the government will put in place to help raise awareness of sexual health and facilitate access to services.

As part of the strategy, the government promises to:

  • Designate a National Reference Laboratory for STIs and conduct an audit of STI services.
  • Implement new standards for home-testing kits.
  • Support and improve sexual education in secondary schools and on the Youthreach programme.
  • Increase the number of schools using quality sex education resources.
  • Distribute new guidelines and advice for parents.
  • Set up a national sexual health training programme under the HSE.

The Department of Health will also consider extending the HPV vaccine to adolescent boys, and potential at-risk groups.  €150,000 has been allocated to launch Dublin’s first free rapid HIV testing service and to support similar services in Cork and Limerick.

Dr Fiona Lyons, a consultant in genitourinary and HIV medicine at St James’ Hospital has been appointed national clinical lead for sexual health services.

Speaking today, Varadkar said:

In the past, sex and sexual health were taboo subjects. Sex is a normal part of life and is essential to our survival as a species. Ultimately, good sexual health is down to personal responsibility but the Government can help by educating people to make better decisions about their sexual health, understand the personal and social cost of having an STI and by improving access to affordable testing and treatment.

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan also highlighted the importance of educating people about relationships and sexual health in schools. She said the State has a responsibility to ensure children and teenagers get comprehensive education on these issues to help them “make positive, responsible decisions relating to their health and wellbeing”.

Read: There’s now a ‘Tinder’ specifically for people carrying an STI>

Read: Too embarrassed to see a doc? Now you can test for almost any STI from your bedroom>

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