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Minister for Health should make condoms more available to tackle growing STI rates

By December 6, 2004News

– Release date: 06 December 2004

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has said that the high rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections recorded by the National Disease Surveillance Centre is a serious public health matter and requires a co-ordinated and effective response by the Government and public health service providers.

In its annual report, published today, the National Disease Surveillance Centre recorded 10,400 cases of STIs in 2003. This is the highest level of STI cases on record.

“Each year the reported number of STI cases continues to increase at an alarming rate. However, there is no apparent strategy in place to stop the spread of infection and bring about a notable reduction in the rate,” said Rosie Toner, IFPA Director of Counselling.

“It is shocking that those responsible for dealing with public health issues have not been responding to the increase. Their complacency on the issue will result in further increases in STIs, resulting in serious health risks for many thousands of people. What we need is a national sexual health strategy that deals with STIs and other sexual health matters.

“The Minister for Health needs to seriously look at measures such as making condoms more accessible through price controls and, in some cases, making condoms free to people on a low budget. Research conducted by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency points to the fact that condoms are often too expensive for some income groups, especially young people. It also highlights the fact that the availability of condoms in some towns throughout the country can be very poor.

“Coupled with the making condoms more available, we need to see a sustained public advertising campaign warning people of the dangers of contracting an STI and stresses the importance of using a quality condom properly,” she said.

The Irish Family Planning Association has a STI screening service available by appointment from its Cathal Brugha Street and Square Tallaght Health Centres. This service is available to men and women and costs €140.