Release date: 08 May 2006
The Irish Family Planning Association has called for a National Sexual Health Strategy to promote education and services aimed at improving people’s sexual health and behaviour.
Speaking on the first day of National Condom Week (8th May 2006) – which is an initiative of Durex to promote safer sex among young women – the Director of Counselling at the IFPA Rosie Toner, said that it was disappointing that there was still no national strategy to promote safer sex, education and services.
“While Durex have been criticised for the campaign, the fact is that they have identified the need for upskilling young people on how to negotiate condom usage as a result of our increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections. They have moved to fill a gap, in the face of inadequate action from government departments and state agencies who should be tackling these issues. It is unacceptable that the current apathy continues.
“Given our population growth, with a high proportion of young sexually-active people, it would be prudent to devise and implement a national sexual health strategy. Such a strategy could promote high standards of sex education at school and home levels; promote safer sex as well as improve the standards and services available to people to ensure that they care for their sexual health. This includes STI testing and treatment. In the longer-term this strategy could result in fewer people presenting with STIs; improved detection of cancers and diseases and less crisis pregnancies.
Notifiable STIs increased by 12.1% in 2004 when compared with 2003, though it is widely accepted that this is a significant underestimation of the reality. The most commonly notified STIs in 2004 were ano-genital warts, non-specific urethritis and genital chlamydia infection. There has been a 2000% increase in cases of chlamydia in the past ten years.
“Unless we see leadership in the area of sexual health, we will continue to deal with the consequences which include long waiting lists for STI testing and an increase in the rates of HIV and AIDS. While National Condom Week 2006 has a tight focus, at the very least it is serving to put a spotlight on sexual health and highlight a gap in the promotion of safer sex,” added Rosie Toner.