Appeal for young men in Lanarkshire to use services

There has been a dramatic decline in the number of young men accessing essential sexual health services across Lanarkshire.

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There has been a dramatic decline in young men accessing sexual health services.

Experts believe disruption caused by the on-going Covid 19 pandemic is partly to blame for the 32 per cent fall in the number of males attending since the beginning of 2020.

So far this year just eight per cent of all young people clinic appointments were booked by men, down from 18 per cent four years ago.

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During #SaferSexLanarkshire week, which runs from May 9 to May 15, clinicians are making a fresh appeal to young men across the region to access the free, confidential and discreet services.

Dr Rashmi Ronghe, lead consultant in sexual health, said: “The pandemic has presented us with challenges, but the proportion of young females accessing services has always been significantly higher than males.

“What we want is for young males to understand what free services are on offer, and how easily they can accessed, and without worrying about being embarrassed.

“Safer sex will help prevent unintended pregnancies and stop the contraction of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Blood Borne Viruses.

“STIs remain high, particularly among young people in Scotland and can go undiagnosed as they can often be symptomless”.

Between 2018 and the end of 2021 overall attendance at sexual health young people clinics has dropped by 37 per cent, with a 64 per cent drop in males over the same period.

Details of all the free, easy to access and confidential sexual health services on offer across Lanarkshire can be found at www.lanarkshiresexualhealth.org.

Information available includes:

How to access free condoms and contraceptive pills by post, including details of the discreet plain packaging when delivered.

Links to an online Sexual Health Clinic booking service. It is fully automated and does not require conversations with a call centre.

Downloadable apps that provide information on contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and blood borne viruses.

And myth busting case study videos explaining what really happens while attending a clinic.

Karen Stewart, sexual health team lead, said: “Young men are reluctant to attend a clinic on their own, but if they are aware of a pal who has attended they are much more likely to visit.

“The prevailing attitude is young males will only attend if they absolutely have to. But what we want to do is prevent infections in the first place and then, if there is a problem, treat it as quickly as possible.

“All of our services are free, easy to access and we take great care to ensure they are as discreet and reassuring as possible.

“We encourage everyone to access the services on offer during #SaferSexLanarkshire week and beyond.”

In 2018, the number of young people attending sexual health clinics in the NHS Lanarkshire area was sitting at 18.49 per cent for males and 81.51 per cent for females.

By 2022, the figure had declined dramatically, sitting at 7.86 per cent for males and 92.14 per cent for females.