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Minister Simon Harris launches free condoms and sexual health information services for students

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Minister Simon Harris launches free condoms and sexual health information services for students nationwide

HSE to make condoms and sexual health information freely available to third-level students. Maeve O’Brien (HSE), Minister for Health Simon Harris, Róisín O'Donovan (USI) and Anita Ghafoor-Butt (HSE)

The Minister for Health Simon launched the roll-out of the National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS) in third level settings at Trinity College Dublin on Tuesday.

From today, third-level institutions can order free condom dispensers from the HSE, which will enable the provision of free condoms and sexual health information to students on campuses nationwide.

Information leaflets will be made available with the condom dispensers, which will outline to students how to use condoms correctly, and will emphasise the importance of using condoms consistently and every time sex happens. The information leaflets will direct students to HSE-led and HSE-funded websites www.sexualwellbeing.ie and www.man2man.ie for further information about sexual health and wellbeing.

"Sexual health is a priority for my department. In recent months, we have made significant policy decisions in this regard. We have published the working group report on access to contraception, we started rolling out PrEP this week and we are reviewing our sexual health strategy next year.  It is essential we continue to make improvements in sexual education and remove barriers to contraception. This will reduce crisis pregnancies and reduce the rates of sexually transmitted infections," said Minister Harris. 

"Today's announcement marks a new milestone in helping us to meet those goals. I want to thank everyone from the HSE, and the staff and students of the third level institutions who have worked so hard to put this great initiative in place. This partnership approach is key to supporting healthier communities in our third-level campuses."

Helen Deely, acting assistant national director for HSE Health and Wellbeing, said: “Using condoms correctly and every time sex occurs reduces the risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. STI diagnoses have been increasing among young adults in recent years. In the past, some young adults reported having sex without a condom because of the cost associated with buying condoms. Others reported having sex without a condom because they did not have access to one at the time sex happened. This scheme is about increasing opportunities for young people in third-level settings to make safer-sex choices if they are sexually active.” 

USI vice president for welfare Róisín O’Donovan added: "Through this initiative, we hope to see an increase in awareness of the importance of using condoms to prevent STI’s and unplanned pregnancies amongst students. Alongside the condom distribution service, we will continue to provide educational and campaign messaging to students on sexual health in partnership with the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme. We encourage students to use the service, plan ahead and carry condoms if they are sexually active.”