Campaign promotes safe sex

Public Health South sexual health promotion adviser Alex Massey (left) and Hepatitis C Resource...
Public Health South sexual health promotion adviser Alex Massey (left) and Hepatitis C Resource Centre educator and phlebotomist Heath Te Au display some of the material to be used in the Otago-Southland Rugby World Cup sexual health campaign. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
An Otago-Southland campaign involving sex and the Rugby World Cup is promoting safety rather than abstention.

The campaign involves a collaboration of several social service agencies, which will be distributing 5000 fold-up cards entitled "Safety tips for a bloody good time".

They will also offer education sessions to a wide range of groups, packs containing information and condoms, and a variety of posters with themes associated with the Rugby World Cup.

The posters include one which says "Consent, crouch, touch, condom".

Dunedin sexual health unit clinical leader Dr Jill McIlraith said abstention was the only way people could be "absolutely sure" they did not get a sexually-transmitted infection, but she accepted that was not realistic.

She advocated people should be prepared to "look after themselves" and think ahead to ensure they could keep themselves sexually safe.

It was not about telling people not to have a good time , but they should "in the nicest possible way" protect themselves from the risk of infection from visitors.

Women should not have more than two standard drinks in an evening and men no more than three so they were in a position to make sensible choices about their physical health, she said.

Public Health South sexual health promotion adviser Alex Massey said the campaign would emphasise the need to plan the evening beforehand and encouraging friends to support each other, so "at the end of the night your mates know where you are and how you are getting home".

The issues of consent and condom use would be highlighted.

The campaign is not just aimed at young people.

Mr Massey said it was acknowledged those aged 35 and older around the world had the highest increase in STI rates.

This was due to many factors, including that people of that age could be worried about accessing services because "they think they should know better".

Often, they had not been exposed to the same amount of sexual education as younger people.

Some women who had gone through menopause and were no longer at risk of pregnancy overlooked the risk of STIs.

Dr McIlraith said while chlamydia was the most common STI in those under the age of 25, for those over 40, syphilis was on the increase. Middle-aged people often had the idea the risks did not apply to them and that it was "only a little bit of sex", but infections were not discriminating and "bugs go where the action is.

"If you are having action and alcohol, you are at risk."

The cards to be distributed will fold down to business-card size and are designed for people to slip into purses, wallets or pockets.

They will contain information about how to contact any of the groups involved with the promotion, including sexual health clinics, Family Planning, Rape Crisis, Youthline, the Hepatitis C Support Centre, the needle exchange centre DIVO and the prostitutes' collective.

Hepatitis C Resource Centre co-ordinator Allison Beck said the collaboration between the various organisations was "quite crucial", as it allowed them to reach more people.

The campaign is aimed at a broad audience throughout the two provinces and the education offered to a variety of organisations, ranging from sports clubs and places providing entertainment, to general practices and accommodation providers.

As each of the participating agencies had their own advisers and health promoters, people could choose the most relevant group to provide the education, Ms Beck said.

• Anyone interested in the campaign should contact Allison Beck on 477-0407 or hepcotago@xtra.co.nz or Alex Massey at alex.massey@southerndhb.govt.nz

 

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