According to health insight company LetsGetChecked only 22% of 18-24 year olds plan to get checked in 2020. Although this figure is up from last year’s 14%, student representatives have called the results “shocking.” Dr. Dominic Rowley, medical director of LetsGetChecked, and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) welfare officer Roisin O’Donovan have urged for greater awareness among students on their sexual health, encouraging regular checks.
This survey was carried out as part of Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) week, a national campaign run to promote awareness around sexual health and consent. The results were even lower among 25-34 year olds as only 9% of this cohort intended to get screened in 2020. These results clearly reveal that regular STI check-ups in Ireland are at a relatively low level.
The USI find these statistics particularly worrying as the HSE found that STI notifications in Ireland increased by 7% in 2018 compared to 2017. Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia were up 7% while Syphilis was up a worrying 22%. Young people aged 15-24 years were particularly affected. In response to these findings, Dr. Dominic Rowley of LetsGetChecked stated “there is an epidemic of STIs in the western world at the moment” and that “the findings are particularly alarming in this era of increased information and ease of access to testing”.
The survey, carried out by Empathy Research, also discovered that 37% of 18-24 year olds have researched STI symptoms online. Testing is not as popular, but figures show that turning to ‘Dr.Google’ is on the rise. This self-diagnosis phenomenon is often due to young people discovering so-called symptoms even though the majority of STIs have no symptoms at all. Dr.Rowley has warned against such behaviours; he encourages regular checks every three months with a trusted organisation such as LetsGetChecked.
Adam O’Sullivan – Reporter