Solent NHS Trust supports campaign to reduce STIs in young people

Public Health England wants more people to use condoms to reduce sexually transmitted infections
Public Health England wants more people to use condoms to reduce sexually transmitted infections

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THE NHS organisation in charge of providing sexual health services in Portsmouth is backing a national campaign.

Public Health England is encouraging people, especially those aged between 16 and 24, to use condoms to reduce the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

It comes as figures released from Public Health England show, nationally, one in 10 16 to 24-year-olds have never used a condom; 35 per cent think carrying condoms gives the impression that you sleep around and 59 per cent of all chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnoses in 2016 were in people aged 15 to 24.

Solent NHS Trust is supporting the campaign and has over the past year developed its online services to make testing and prevention much easier.

Diagnostic figures from Public Health England show in Portsmouth last year 1,148 people per 100,000 were diagnised with chlamydia; 119 people per 100,000 were diagnosed with gonorrhoea and there were 2,069 new STI diagnoses per 100,000.

Solent’s online service offers a free self-sampling STI test kit, which includes testing for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV, as well as its free condoms by post service.

They also provide a free, confidential web chat service for people living with or affected by HIV.

Debbie Zimmerman, head of Solent’s sexual health services, said: ‘If anyone has any concerns or wants to talk to someone about their risk of HIV or other STIs they can chat to us online from the comfort of their own home using a mobile or computer.

‘Chlamydia testing for under 25-year-olds is still on our radar.

‘We also offer an online test kit for chlamydia for 16 to 24-year-olds.

‘They simply go to our website, order the kit, which is posted out in a plain unmarked small parcel, return their urine or swab sample to us in the freepost envelop and we will text them with their result.

‘It’s all easy to do and importantly it’s very confidential which means we won’t be telling their GP or parents, which we know for some young people is a worry.’

The Public Health England campaign aims to help normalise and encourage condom use in young people.

The Protect Against STIs campaign launched with an advertising campaign targeting young people.

The new advertising hears from real people talking about their own personal experience of having an STI.

Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at Public Health England, said: ‘Rates of STIs among young people continue to be too high and it is concerning that many sexually-active young people are not using condoms with new partners.’