An awareness campaign has been launched after a report revealed a 33 per cent rise in the number of people diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection (STI) Gonorrhoea over a year-long period.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has collaborated with THINK Contraception, Crisis Pregnancy Programme, Union of Students Ireland (USI), SpunOut.ie and Dublin Aids Alliance to work with different types of young people and to reach a broader audience.
The online campaign uses images and three simple messages that are easy to follow and are accessible to all: “use condoms and get tested, it’s free.”
“Getting into a habit of proactive testing is really important,” says SpunOut.ie Youth Engagement Officer, John Buckley.
He hopes that the campaign will create a cultural change in people’s behaviour in Ireland: “if we have sexual partners from one to plus one and above that we’re being proactive about testing and not just reacting to a concern that we might have.”
Gonorrhea can be transmitted not only through penetrative sex but also through oral sex and is treatable with antibiotics. It can easily be prevented by using condoms and dental dams, for female oral sex.
“Sexual health is very much part of our overall physical health and can also be part of our mental health. Because there are a lot of stigmas that go with STIs, it can impact on our emotional wellbeing. We went with the letter G because Gonorrhoea is hard to spell,” explained Buckley, “and we then put it into different acronyms.”
Messages such as ‘orG: Gonorrhoea, it can be shared… but not on Facebook’ or ‘OMG: Gonorrhoea, it’s trending… but not on Twitter’ can be read on the campaign’s online posters.
But despite what it says on the posters, Gonorrhoea did trend for a while on Twitter last Monday with the hashtag #OMGSti.
The campaign will be complimented with offline materials such as booklets with all the information, FAQs and services available, to ensure that it also reaches people who are not online or don’t have a social media presence.
DCU Students’ Union provides condoms all year round and students can get them in the SU offices upstairs in the Hub.
This article was first published in The College View on December 18th, 2013.