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'Students can't travel to Dublin or Galway for an STI test'

There is no clinic within an hour of the Midlands.

Image: Shutterstock/Albina Glisic

CALLS HAVE BEEN made to reinstate an STI clinic in Westmeath to protect local students.

The facility was pulled in January due to what the HSE calls “regulatory requirements”, but concerns have been raised.

Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath Robert Troy says that he was approached by students at Athlone IT who were concerned at its withdrawal.

The college’s students’ union this week celebrated SHAG (Sexual Health and Guidance) Week.

“It really is a dangerous and retrograde step,” Troy told TheJournal.ie.

“You have students, many of whom are sexually active, who have nowhere to go and get tested.

“It’s a big step back and something needs to be put in place for these students.”

Troy raised the issue in the Dáil last week, but as it was a service issue Health Minister Simon Harris referred him to the HSE.

A statement to TheJournal.ie from the HSE said:

“Due to regulatory requirements the STI clinic at Regional Hospital Mullingar can no longer be co-located in its current location and an alternate location is required. Options are under consideration by the Hospital Management Team and it is our hope to resume this service as soon as possible.”

After the removal of the service, Laura Tully Institute Nurse &Health Centre Coordinator at Athlone IT told Shannonside FM that there is no sexual health service within an hour of the IT.

This follows the closure of the clinic at Portiuncula Hospital in September. She said that despite increased awareness, STIs were prevalent among the general population.

“I want to advocate for a service for these young people.

“I have a nurse-led clinic – it’s an advice clinic, not a specialist clinic. I need to have a specialist service available.

“Having to travel to Galway, Dublin or Portlaoise isn’t an option for students.”

Read: The number of teenage pregnancies in Ireland has fallen by 64% – but STIs are on the rise

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