A sexual health campaign has been launched to encourage condom use, especially by young adults, to reduce increasing rates of sexual transmitted infections.

Cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are continuing to rise in Wales. In 2018, there were over 6,800 diagnoses of chlamydia, over 1,400 diagnoses of gonorrhoea and nearly 250 cases of infectious syphilis.

Diagnoses of new cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea have seen the highest increase in 2018, compared to the previous year.

The annual Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s SEXtember campaign theme ‘Get it on’ aims to discuss sexual health matters openly and without embarrassment. This year it will be focusing on encouraging people to have fun safely by wearing a condom.

The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the serious consequences of STIs, which can cause infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID – an infection of the female upper genital tract, including the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries) and swollen or painful testicles

Dr Ushan Andrady, Consultant in Genitourinary Medicine/HIV for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, who is the SEXtember campaign lead said: “Rates of STIs continue to be too high and it is concerning that many sexually active young people are not using condoms”.

“Using a condom is the safest way to ensure that you avoid contracting STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Whilst many STIs are symptomless, contracting them can have serious health consequences if left untreated and even lead to infertility. As I tell patients in my clinic every week, it’s just not worth putting yourself at risk by not using a condom”.

“Through our SEXtember campaign we want young people to know that sex can be fun and safe, if you wear a condom.

“There is still a perception for many that condoms reduce pleasure and fun, but you can get condoms in different shapes, sizes and flavours. Condoms should be a key part of a positive sexual activity as they help protect against STIs and unplanned pregnancies”.

Across North Wales condoms are available from pharmacies, supermarkets, vending machines and from sexual health clinics.

Young people aged less than 25 years old can access free, confidential sexual health advice and free condoms from the Condom (C-Card) schemes. These schemes operate mainly from youth centres and voluntary organisations.

You can find more information about c-card services in your areas by visiting www.cccymru.co.uk

To find our more information about the campaign and Sexual Health services in North Wales visit www.sextember.org

Photo: Corrina Williams & Mel Gadd from Cwmni Addysg Rhyw/Sex Education Company launching the campaign at Ysbyty Gwynedd.