A “sexual health strategy” is set to be put before the Government by the end of 2012, Minister of State for Health Róisín Shortall has said.
Speaking at the launch of a campaign by Dublin Aids Alliance to encourage young people to carry condoms, Ms Shortall said: “The Department of Health have set up a steering group who are currently working on developing a national sexual health strategy to be presented to Government by the end of this year.
The focus will be on reducing the incidence of STIs in the country. No reference has been made to the mental health risks often associated with having multiple sexual partners.
One American study found that women aged 18-23 who had 10 or more sexual partners were three times as likely to have suffered from depression as women in the same age group who had had zero, one or two sexual partners.
Minister Shortall said: “I welcome the fact that this steering group is now in place and think that it is a good thing they are working to such a tight time scale”, The Irish Times reports.
The Minister said that data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre showing that there were 320 new HIV cases reported last year and more than 12,000 cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) notified in 2010 were a cause for concern.
This was a 10 per cent increase on 2009 figures.
“There is no reason for complacency in this area. This figure is far too high and is even likely to be significantly lower than the actual number of cases. This presents a big challenge to the Government and non governmental agencies,” Ms Shortall said.
“We have so much ground to make up for in all areas of activity – promotion, surveillance and treatment of STIs.
“The data we have at the moment is very underdeveloped and our services are underdeveloped also. But we will rise to this challenge and tackle the problem in a number of effective ways,” she added.