Belfast Telegraph

Students urged to use contraception

More than seven out of 10 students have had unprotected sex but have never been tested for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to research.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) found 38% of students said either they or a sexual partner have had to take the morning after pill.

More than 1,000 young people were surveyed ahead of sexual health awareness and guidance (Shag) week in colleges and universities across the country.

Some 86% said they were sexually active, but 74% stated that they have had unprotected sex.

USI President Gary Redmond said sexual health is an integral part of student life.

"Talking about sex-related issues is still a taboo subject in Ireland and we want to break through these barriers and encourage people to practice safer sex and to look after their sexual health," he said.

"With over 60% of STIs diagnosed in the 20 to 29-year-old age group, it is more important now than ever to promote safer sex practices.

"Most STIs are symptomless so if you're sexually active the only way to know you're healthy is by getting regular STI tests." USI has teamed up the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, MSD healthcare and Durex to distribute almost 40,000 sexual health awareness packs containing condoms and information on contraception, STIs and fertility in colleges during Shag week.

Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, acting director of the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, called on students to think contraception.

"Research tells us that 18 to 24-year-olds know about the importance of using contraception, but fail to use it consistently and often take risks particularly when sex is not planned for," she said.

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