Choose to protect yourself – the new sexual health campaign from the PHA

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Thursday, June 25th, 2015
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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise in Northern Ireland, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) is launching a major new campaign aimed at improving and protecting people’s sexual health and wellbeing. phaNorthern Ireland had the largest proportional increase in new HIV diagnoses anywhere in the UK between 2000-2013, and the overall number of people here living with the condition has almost doubled over the past decade. There were also 537 new episodes of uncomplicated gonorrhoea diagnosed in Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics in 2013, compared with 451 in 2012 and 336 in 2011. Dr Louise Herron, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said, “By having unprotected sex you could effectively be sleeping with everyone your partner’s ever slept with, putting yourself at risk of getting HIV or another STI.” The campaign will specifically target 16-34 year olds as this age group has the highest rate of STIs, and it will encourage them to protect themselves. Dr Carol Emerson, Consultant in Genito-Urinary/ HIV Medicine at Belfast Trust, added, “We are also encouraging people to get tested if they have put themselves at risk. Only one in nine people surveyed in the Health Survey Northern Ireland said they had attended a GUM clinic, which shows there could be a lot of people out there with untreated infections that they are continuing to spread.” To accompany the campaign, a new website has been developed with lots of information on looking after your sexual health, symptoms of STIs (as well as information on STIs which may be symptomless) and details of Northern Ireland GUM clinics: www.sexualhealthni.info

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