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Students - if you have sex, protect yourself


Public Health Agency

Type: News
Region: Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland

With sexually transmitted infections on the rise, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding those students who choose to have sex, to make it safer as the new academic term starts.Leaving home or making many new friends at college or university is an exciting time for students, but young people starting this new chapter in their lives could be putting their health in danger through sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or run the risk of an unplanned pregnancy if they have unprotected sex.PHA statistics for 2010(1) show that overall, new STI diagnoses increased by 6% compared with figures for 2009. While uncomplicated chlamydia infections showed a slight decline from 2009 (down by 4%), diagnoses of the other main infections increased:genital herpes simplex (first episode) increased by 18%; uncomplicated gonorrhoea increased by 13%; genital warts (first episode) increased by 2%; non-specific genital infection increased by 14%;Dr Neil Irvine, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, said: "We want to remind students about the risks of HIV and STIs, given that young people and men who have sex with men (MSM) are particularly at risk."People can be infected with HIV and STIs without having any symptoms, so it is important to protect yourself and to stop the spread of infection to others. Use condoms, including for oral sex, limit your number of sexual partners, and get checked at your GP surgery or your local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic, if you have put yourself at risk. The clinic provides both treatment and medication - free of charge."If you have put yourself at risk by having unprotected sex, you should have a check up as it will help put your mind at ease."Anyone who has vaginal, anal or oral sex can catch or spread STIs, but not everyone will develop symptoms. If not treated early, some STIs can do permanent damage to your health."If you have sex with more than one partner, or with someone whose sexual history you do not know, you are putting yourself at risk, as you are linked to all the people your sexual partner has had sex with."Not all genital infections are caused by sexual contact, but they may still need treatment. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B, although there is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B, but medicine is available to help manage living with the diseases." The PHA produces a range of resources on sexual health, eg Don't gamble with your sexual health and sexual health factsheets. These are available in the 'Publications' section of the PHA website  





Rights: Public
Suggested citation:

Public Health Agency. (2012) Students - if you have sex, protect yourself [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 15th November 2019].


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