HomeTagsPosts tagged with "STIs"

STIs

Minister for Health Simon Harris is aiming to remove VAT from condoms and menstrual cups, and we want to squeeze him with hugs for life.

Harris called for a review of Ireland's tax approach on menstrual products and the barrier contraceptive ahead of last year's Budget, but no changes were carried out.

His position appears to be the same this year, and he'll be asking for VAT on these goods to be scrapped in October's Budget.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by  (@freesafelegalfilm) on

The reduced rate of VAT of 13.5 percent applies to condoms at the moment, but the minister hopes to remove it entirely according to The Journal.

The Irish Pharmacy Union has also called for condoms to be VAT-free, with a pack of 12 condoms currently pricing at between €13 and €20.

Contraceptive gels for use with the barrier method also have a 13.5 percent rate applied. The oral contraceptive pill, the implant and injection currently have 0% VAT.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by (@durex) on

Harris wrote to Finance Minister Paschal Donohue about the work to reduce crisis pregnancies, saying that the VAT rates;

“Runs contrary to our work for people to practice safer sex and avoid crisis pregnancies and STIs”.

The letter  was released under the Freedom of Information Act, and states that the aim of the Sexual Health Strategy is to “improve sexual health and well being and to reduce negative sexual health outcomes”.

Harris writes in the letter that the cost of condoms could stop people buying them. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by  (@lingerieatsinderellas) on

The importance of using condoms is also to protect against STIs, including HIV, as well as contraception.

While he pointed out that consumer expenditure is widely subject to VAT, Harris claimed that “there is a strong case for excluding non-oral contraception from this tax”.

"Such a tax may inevitably discourage people from purchasing non-oral contraception due to cost concerns. This runs contrary to our work for people to practise safer sex and avoid crisis pregnancies and STIs. Both of these outcomes have a negative impact on the people concerned and their immediate family."

The health service loses out in the long run if STI rates are high, due to the cost "involved in treating people who contract HIV".

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by  (@durex) on

Harris has also called for the VAT rate on sanitary products to be reduced to 0% also, such as the VAT rate of 23 percent on menstrual cups.

“The issue that now needs attention is the position with newer products. Newer products (e.g. menstrual cups) that were not available at the time of these agreements are subject to the standard rate of VAT 23 percent.

“There is a cogent argument for removing VAT on these and any newer sanitary products and aligning them with the zero-percent VAT rate applicable to tampons and sanitary towels,” he said.

The minister currently is attempting to overhaul the cost and availability of contraception in Ireland.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by  (@isty_gcupmks) on

The government announced that it hopes to increase free contraception nationwide, and Harris plans to reduce the cost of the morning after pill.

Last Monday, Harris announced that condoms would be distributed across third level colleges this year.

A public consultation is currently underway on how to increase access to contraception in the hopes to reduce abortion rates, STIs spreading and crisis pregnancies.

Trending

Worrying new research has shown that Irish people have a seriously laid-back attitude when it comes to sexual health.

A new study conducted by Durex as part of its 'Wrap Up' campaign found that some 49 per cent of Irish people have had sex without protection against STIs, while just 27 per cent of us are making a conscious effort to prevent the transmission.

The research comes at a time when the HSE reports a rise of Chlamydia, Herpes and Gonorrhea amongst youths year on year, with the later having  increased by over 50 per cent between 2015 and 2016 alone.

Despite well over two-thirds of 18-24 year olds saying they feel confident in their knowledge of how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases, Durex's recent findings suggest that just 27 per cent use any form of contraception against STIs at all.

So, why do we decide to takes risks when it comes to sexual health?

Here's the top three reasons cited by respondents.

1. “Confidence the other person is not carrying an STI” (35 per cent)

2. “The thought simply didn’t cross my mind” (23 per cent)

3. “Taken over by the heat of the moment” (35 per cent)

Reports show that  20–29-year-olds are most likely sufferer from an STIs, with The Health Protection Surveillance Center’s (HPSC) latest findings (October 2017) showing  the age group account for over half (58 per cemt) of diagnoses. 

What's more, Durex's findings also found that just one in six Irish women have ever purchased condoms – and of those who do to use them, only 37 per cent admit to using them every time they have sex. 

Speaking about the recent findings, Dr. Jack Lambert, Consultant in Infectious Disease and Genitourinary Medicine at The Mater Hospital, commented: “The rise in sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Herpes in the past 12 months is a clear reflection of young people’s casual attitude to preventing the spread of STIs. Youths are incredibly liberal in terms of behaviour but the same approach is not taken in terms of carrying out regular STI checks."

"The surge in recordings of STIs year on year reflects several behavioural changes, with no two cases being the same. However, what can be taken from the recent findings is a need for further education on the matter and an open conversation when it comes to safe sex, not only with regards to preventing pregnancy but also STIs.”

Trending

Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble may have a role to play in the increasing amount of sexually transmitted infections being reported in Ireland, according to doctors.

It's believed that the laid-back attitude associated with online dating may we changing the way we think about casual sex, thus contributing to the increased risk of exposure to STIs.

Dr Ilona Duffy believes that young people are showing less concern for things like unplanned pregnancy and infections, than the generations before them.

"We're seeing the likes of Tinder, other websites where people are hooking up purely for sex and people, young people especially, don't have the same hang ups as they had years ago – worrying about pregnancy, worrying about STIs, worrying just about their reputation," she said.

"So it is very different. While it is fine to be on Tinder etc and meeting up people for casual sex – you've got to take precautions and I think that's not out there," she said.

She also said that an improvement in Ireland's sex education system is need to decrease the prevalence of STIs in Irish society.

However, she did point out that the growing number of sexual health clinics around the county could behind the inflated figures.

To protect yourself from STIs, make sure to use condoms during every sexual encounter, and avail of free, regular STI screenings.

Trending

Most of us have a solid idea of our 'number' when it comes to how many sexual partners we've had, be it one or one hundred.

But with STI statistics on the rise in Ireland, it's important to be aware of another number too… the amount of 'indirect' partners you've had.

For every one person you've slept with, there's a high likelihood they have their own history of sexual partners too. And when you take into account how many people their partners have slept with, and so on, the number just keeps growing.

So what's the total tally? Well, now you can find out, thanks to the Sex Degrees of Separation calculator developed by Lloyds Pharmacy. Be prepared, because the numbers will shock you.

For example, someone with five male sexual partners in the 20-24 age group is estimated to have slept with a whopping 1,353,301 people indirectly.

And the more partners you've had, the more that number grows:

The formula is based on the Six Degrees of Separation theory, the "sociological idea that we are all connected to each other by only six connections.

In order to give you an estimate of your number, the calculator asks for the number of partners you've had and what age group each was in.

It then tallies how many people those partners are statistically likely to have slept with given their age, and so on for six stages or degrees.

The aim? To estimate how many indirect partners you could have been exposed to sexually.

It's important to note that the calculator is simply a statistical estimate, and serves only to highlight the possible risks of unprotected sex, but all the same it's definitely made us think.

Trending

Getting an STI test is often something we don't think of until it's too late, but these new figures should definitely motivate you to pick up the phone and make that appointment.

Positive cases of chlamydia increased by 32% last year, according to new figures from the Dublin Well Woman Centre Annual Report. The centre detected 253 cases of the STI last year, up almost a third on 2013.

Last year's figure is the second highest in 13 years, an alarming statistic considering the amount of sexual health education easily available these days.

As well as chlamydia testing, the Well Woman Clinic offers a full screen for STIs and includes bloods, swabs and any necessary referrals, prescriptions or follow-up.

The figures also noted an increase in women choosing long-action reversible contraception choices, like the Implanon implant, a small flexible plastic rod which is placed under the skin, giving contraceptive protection for 3 years.

While they do not prevent against STIs, many women choose LARCs as a more reliable method of protection from unplanned pregnancy. "LARCs are highly effective, have minimal side effects and are a ‘fit and forget’ solution to contraception," says Dr Shirley McQuade, Medical Director of the Well Woman Centre.

However for guaranteed protection from STIs, especially during sex with a new partner, condoms are still always recommended.

Chlamydia Fact Sheet

What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection which can be contracted by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who is also infected. 

How do I know if I have it?
Unlike other STIs, chlamydia often has no symptoms, though some women do present with abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when peeing. Condoms offer the greatest protection against chlamydia and STIs in general, so it is extremely important to get tested if you have had unprotected sex with a new partner recently or suspect you may be at risk.

What happens if I have chlamydia?
Luckily, chlamydia can be easily detected during an STI test and can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. If left untreated the STI can result in serious, permanent damage to a woman's reproductive system. 

Trending

When over 1,200 people were asked whether or not they would have sex with someone they knew had an STI, the feedback was pretty scary.

About 19% answered ‘yes’, up to a quarter said it would depend on the STI and 26% said they would have sex with someone with an STI because they believe a condom would keep them protected – oh dear.

It’s no surprise that nearly one in five of those interviewed admitted they once had an STI in their lifetime. Even more shocking, nearly half of those interviewed admitted they’ve had unprotected sex with someone who had an STI.

These figures are quite frightening, if we’re honest. There’s no reason to jump into bed with someone who has an STD – it really is a big risk on your part.

Your health is your wealth, ladies – remember that.

Trending