‘OMG: Gonorrhoea…It’s Trending’

HSE adopts tongue-in-cheek style to new STI prevention campaign


A new HSE-backed social media campaign to tackle a spike in gonorrhoea cases launched today under the wonderfully catchy headline “OMG: Gonorrhoea…It’s Trending”

The initiative aims to get its gonorrhoea prevention message trending on Twitter and Facebook by adopting a less formal tone.

The HSE said the “tongue-in-cheek style” of messages will help with getting the information across to young adults in both a humorous and factual way.

The campaign is being jointly run by the Dublin AIDS Alliance, the Union of Students Ireland, SpunOut.ie, the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme and Think Contraception.

It was prompted by a 33 per cent rise in gonorrhoea cases between 2011 and 2012, with young men and women identified as the key risk group.

Key messages will be promoted primarily using online resources - Facebook, Twitter and websites, the HSE said.

“Social media messages will promote safer sex, prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including the consistent use of condoms, and STI testing and treatment services. The use of social media will enable the campaign messages to reach a large national audience,” it added.

Dr Fionnuala Cooney, public health specialist with the HSE, said today that “our ability to test for gonorrhoea has improved in recent years, and more sensitive tests, and more numbers attending for screening may account for some of the increase - however, we know that unsafe sexual behaviour is a significant driver of the increase in cases of Gonorrhoea and other STIs.”

Susan Donlon of Dublin AIDS Alliance said: “It is vital that young people can make informed decisions about their sexual health, and how to prevent the transmission of gonorrhoea and other STIs.”

The campaign’s website, www.yoursexualhealth.ie, provides information on the facts about gonorrhoea, safer sex, where to access free STI testing, and where to access free condoms, she added.

Denise McCarthy, Union of Students in Ireland urged people to follow simple steps for prevention - get accurate and reliable information on STIs, always use a condom when having sex, and talk to your partner(s) about STI testing and using condoms.

“People can have gonorrhoea and not have any signs or symptoms, so regular STI testing is encouraged, particularly if you have many sexual partners or if you have ever had unprotected sex. Testing is free in public STI clinics,” she said.