A condom distribution service has been launched in third-level colleges nationwide.
As part of the National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS), third level institutions can now order free condom dispensers from the HSE. This will enable the provision of free condoms to students on campuses throughout the country.
Information leaflets will also be made available with the condom dispensers, which will provide students with information on how to use condoms correctly. These leaflets will also emphasise the importance of using condoms every time you have sex.
Officially launching the service in Trinity College Dublin, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said that it is essential that Ireland "continues to make improvements in sexual education and remove barriers to contraception", as this will reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) here.
According to Helen Deely, acting assistant national director for HSE Health and Wellbeing, STI diagnoses have been increasing among young adults in recent years.
Figures show that between 2015 and 2018, the number of herpes diagnoses increased by 22% among people aged between 15 and 24, while chlamydia cases increased by 14% and gonorrhoea cases jumped by 33%.
"In the past, some young adults reported having sex without a condom because of the cost associated with buying condoms; others reported having sex without a condom because they did not have access to one at the time sex happened. This scheme is about increasing opportunities for young people in third-level settings to make safer sex choices if they are sexually active," Ms Deely explained.
The launch of this new service was welcomed by Róisín O'Donovan, vice-president for welfare with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
"Through this initiative, we hope to see an increase in awareness of the importance of using condoms to prevent STIs and unplanned pregnancies among students. We encourage students to use the service, plan ahead and carry condoms if they are sexually active," she commented.
*Pictured at the launch of the new service is Maeve O'Brien, acting programme lead of the HSE Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP), the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, Róisín O'Donovan, vice-president for Welfare at USI, and Anita Ghafoor-Butt, HSE SHCPP communications manager
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