The Halton and St Helens Sexual Health Team is reminding freshers the importance of taking control of their sexual health and to avoid any unwanted surprises during the start of the new academic term.
As local colleges and universities celebrate ‘Freshers Week’, sexual health and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) continue to be a concern to those students aged 24 years and under across the region. By using a condom you can keep yourself safer from STIs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and HIV, as well as protection against the risk of pregnancy.
The Halton and St Helens Sexual Health Team has a dedicated and up-to-date sexual health website at www.GetItOn.org.uk. The site covers areas such as relationships, sex, STIs, contraception, pregnancy and parenthood. The Get It On campaign also works closely with GP Practices in the distribution of condoms as an infection and pregnancy prevention method.
The latest findings from the Health Protection Agency shows Chlamydia is the greatest infection diagnosed at Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics across Halton and St Helens amongst those aged below 24 years (1).
Chlamydia is an invisible and silent infection. It is easily transmitted, does not discriminate and anybody can catch it if they are sexually active. Many people remain undiagnosed, and if untreated Chlamydia can lead to infertility in both males and females.
Jane Marshall specialises in sexual health for the The Halton and St Helens Sexual Health Team. She said:
“We offer a free test kit for Chlamydia not just for freshers but for all our sexually active 15 to 24 year olds. The test is a straightforward urine sample, and treatment for any positive results is a simple course of antibiotics.
“All you need to do is call our Chlamydia Screening Team on 01744 457 379 or ask for a test at your local clinic or medical surgery. Don’t be embarrassed as everything is
confidential, and no records will be passed to your GP unless you want to.”
The Halton and St Helens Sexual Health Team, in partnership with Greater Merseyside Connexions and Halton Children’s Trust, have also developed a new text service that provides up-to-date sexual health clinic times for the price of a standard text message.
The service allows anyone requiring sexual health clinic information to receive a text message detailing the clinic information specific for the area they have requested (St
Helens, Widnes or Runcorn). Once a text message has been sent, the system will store the number anonymously allowing that person to receive FREE updates in the future or receive information about special events or clinic changes (2).
- For clinic times in St Helens, users should text the letters ‘SHS’ to 07860 002 019.
- For clinic times in Widnes, users should text the letters ‘SHW’ to 07860 002 019.
- For clinic times in Runcorn, users should text the letters ‘SHR’ to 07860 002 019.
The start of college and university can be a time when many students increase their alcohol intake and/or take drugs. Doing so can increase the risk of unprotected sex. As such, The Halton and St Helens Sexual Health Team offers the following advice to avoid giving a sexual partner an unexpected surprise:
- Say NO to sex if you do not feel ready for it.
- Use a condom every time you have sex. Only condoms provide protection against unintended pregnancy and most STIs, including HIV.
- Just because you have been with someone for a while, do not give up using a condom until you have both had a check-up.
- If you think you have been put at risk, it is important to get tested.
- If your contraception has failed, women can access the emergency hormonal contraceptive (EHC). EHC works better the sooner you use it but can be used up to five days after having unprotected sex.
The website www.GetItOn.org.uk also includes a detailed list of local and regional clinics, their contact numbers and opening times. Advice on areas such as alcohol and drugs as well as worries over things like your sexuality and sexual abuse are all available for students online atwww.GetItOn.org.uk 24 hours a day.
1 Information taken from the HPA Annual STI data (August 2010)
2 Users should text the word STOP to end any future messages.