Minister for Health Simon Harris has published the Report of the Working Group on Access to Contraception. Acting on their findings, Harris announced that a condom distribution service has been launched, which will allow third level institutions to order free condom dispensers from the HSE.
At the official launch of the service in Trinity College Dublin, Harris said;
“In 2018, more than 409,300 condoms and 288,000 lubricant sachets were delivered through the National Condom Distribution Service to organisations working directly with people at increased risk of unplanned pregnancy or STIs. Later this year, we will expand this service and introduce vending machines across third level colleges to increase the distribution of free condoms and further promote safer sex among young people.”
This moves comes as the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STI) amongst young people continues to rise. According to HIV Ireland, 86% of all STIs notified in 2016 were among those aged less than 30 years, with 15-24 year olds accounting for almost half of chlamydia cases, 43% of herpes simplex cases and 37% of gonorrhoea cases in the same year.
Helen Deely, acting assistant national director for HSE Health and Wellbeing spoke on this rise of STI, saying;
“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,”
Speaking to The University Observer, Welfare Officer Úna Carroll said of the move; “
I’m delighted to hear about the new developments with the NCDS, we’ve been waiting on condom dispensers to come on to campus for a while now and I think that this is a huge step towards a more open discussion around safe sex, contraception, and respect in relationships.
“I’ve been in contact with the HSE for a while about this and I’m hopeful that well have some dispensers of our own very soon on campus! In the meantime, condoms can be picked up in the health centre and in SU reception as well as lube, and information on contraception and STIs.”
The move has been welcomed by the USI and various other health groups.