north yorkshire county councilNorth Yorkshire County Council is supporting a national campaign that encourages people to be aware of the risks of sexually transmitted infections, and how and where to get help and advice.

This year’s national Sexual Health Awareness Week runs from 12-18 September and its theme is sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The message is that anyone who is sexually active can get an STI – the most common of which is chlamydia.

STIs are passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex and are particularly common in sexually active teenagers and young adults. However, it’s not just young people who are at risk as diagnoses of STIs among older age groups have been increasing in recent years. Many STIs present little or no symptoms and can become increasingly difficult to treat, becoming more serious if they are not treated early.

In nearly every case, condoms will help protect against the risk of an STI and unplanned pregnancy. If used correctly during sex, male condoms are 98% effective and female condoms are thought to be 95% effective against unplanned pregnancy. Under-25-year-olds can get free condoms from sexual health clinics and most GP surgeries.

Within North Yorkshire, there is plenty of professional help on hand to diagnose and treat STIs through a free and confidential service. As part of its work to protect the health of residents across the county, the County Council funds YorSexual Health. This is a free, easy-to-access service that provides sexual health advice, contraception, testing and treatment for STIs. The service is accessed through self-referral and provides a range of walk-in and booked clinics across the county.

“YorSexual Health provides ‘one stop shops’, which means that, in most cases, people can have all their sexual health needs met from one clinic,” said County Councillor David Chance, Executive Member for Public Health and Stronger Communities.

“Anyone who is sexually active can contract a STI and if you think you may be at risk, or concerned about your general sexual health, please get checked out by contacting YorSexual Health – the service is simple, free and completely confidential.”

Free postal STI testing kits can be ordered online for anyone over the age of 16 and chlamydia tests are available from GPs and Young People’s services for all under-25-year-olds. YorSexual Health clinics are available Monday to Friday, with some clinics open on Saturdays. People can also access a range of advice and support online and from “virtual clinics”.  Contact the service for advice or to make an appointment by telephone on 01904 721111 and access further information about the service online at www.yorsexualhealth.org.uk.

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