Drive to raise male awareness on sexual health
Young people across Northern Ireland, particularly men, are being urged to take their sexual health more seriously.
With sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on the rise here, a new campaign called #TakeTheTest has been launched to encourage men to get tested.
Latest statistics show that from 2000 to 2011 new diagnoses at GUM clinics increased by 28%, with gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia all on the rise.
Dr Gary Smyth, medical director at Randox, makers of the Confidante home STI test kit, said: "We know from our own sales, our consultations in our Randox Health clinics and from our colleagues in the NHS that rates of sexually transmitted infections are soaring; simply because more people are having unprotected sex more often.
"There is a responsibility on all agencies and on the Department of Health to raise awareness, to stem the infection rate, particularly in our young people."
The #TakeTheTest Campaign has received a boost during NI Sexual Health Week, which runs until February 17, with Cool FM DJ Sonya Mac signing up as an ambassador.
"My listeners like to go out, they like to party and that leads on to other things, so they need to be aware that there are things that they don't want to get – and if they think they could have something, they need to make sure that they're responsible, that they take the test and get treated," she said.