NHS Herefordshire has launched a credit card sized C-Card, which can be kept in a wallet or purse and presented at various venues to receive a standard pack of six. The aim is to help keep young people safe from sexually transmitted infections, which are on the rise among the under 25s.
Now a city retailer – Jean Nation in Eign Gate – is to issue packs of condoms if customers present the card when buying a pair of jeans. The young people will have already been taught about safe sex and condom use when they registered for the card at a clinic, doctor’s surgery, youth service or with a school nurse.
“NHS Herefordshire approached me to help”, said Luke Conod, managing director of Jean Nation, “because Jean Nation is an outlet where young people are likely to congregate at weekends, so we are making it as easy as possible to pick up a pack of condoms as well as a pair of jeans. It is all about making sure our young people are prepared, knowledgeable and above all protected”.
Although Jean Nation is the first retailer to support the scheme, many more are expected to sign up shortly, as well as local nightclubs and bars.
“NHS Herefordshire, which leads the NHS in the county, is distributing and promoting the cards across the county”, said Dr Akeem Ali, director of public health in Herefordshire. “Each card contains an insert with information on using condoms safely, together with a list of sites where the card can be presented, with no questions asked. Young people will have been taught about safer sex and condom use when they receive their condom card, and will have discussed the issues openly”.
Dramatic increases in diagnosis of Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and infectious Syphilis have been recorded across the UK since the early 1990s. It is estimated that 1 in 10 sexually active young people carry a sexually transmitted infection, which often has no symptoms but can lead to infertility in later life.
C-Cards and safe sex supplies are available from various venues, including Gaol Street Clinic (Sexual Health) in Hereford, from school nurses, youth workers, NHS Herefordshire and at Connexions. Alternatively there is plenty of advice available for young people on www.sexfaqs.org – a web site run by Hereford’s Gaol Street Health Clinic.