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Sexually active students advised to take STI test

USI partners with HIV Ireland, SpunOut, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and HSE to raise awareness during SHAG campaign

Sexually active students have been called upon to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) as the latest HSE figures show an increase in the numbers of those suffering from Chlamydia. 

The USI and partner groups have launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of STIs has called on young people who are sexually active to be tested.

Chlamydia is the most common STI diagnosed in Ireland with 6,797 diagnoses in 2015. It mainly affects those in their 20s with 65 per cent of those diagnosed cases of Chlamydia among young people aged 20 to 29 years.

To coincide with SHAG Week 2017, the USI have partnered with HIV Ireland, SpunOut.ie, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme to raise awareness about increasing STIs among young people, particularly Chlamydia.

Provisional data from the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows a 1.5 per cent increase in Chlamydia diagnoses in 2016 with 6,901 diagnoses.

The USI advises its members to practice safe sex to avoid infections.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has partnered with the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme to launch the 2017 Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign.

The event, held in campuses across Ireland, will encourage young people who are sexually active to get tested for STI’s and practice safer consensual sex.

The campaign will include the distribution of condoms, lubricant and easy-to- follow advice to 30,000 students as well as on-campus STI screenings for students.

“We are urging students and young people to look after their sexual health. We are seeing an increase of diagnosed STIs in Ireland, especially amongst young people. We are urging students to avail of free public health STI clinics around the country while  practicing safe consensual sex," said Annie Hoey, president of the Union of Students in Ireland.  

"This is why we have teamed up with the HSE SHCPP this year and see this partnership as vital as ever. Along with promoting safe sex we have also sent over 20,000 Say Something cards with information on practising consensual sex, and to promote the services which support those who have been affected by sexual violence and rape.”

Helen Deely, Head of the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, said: "We would actively encourage people who are thinking of having sex or are sexually active, to think ahead and practice safer sex.

"Using a condom will help limit the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection and an unplanned pregnancy.” 

Susan Donlon of HIV Ireland, said:  "We are delighted to support SHAG Week events once again in 2017, and to partner with the USI to reach a core audience of young people with sexual health messages.

"Most people with Chlamydia will not have any symptoms and during SHAG Week we want to raise awareness of the importance of regular STI testing which is available free at public and community-based clinics around Ireland, including at HIV Ireland.”