A THOUSAND young people have registered with a confidential new health service which gives them access to free condoms and STI tests.
The electronic C-Card scheme can be used to access advice and services including sexual health, contraception and referral to drug and alcohol services.
The large number of 14-to-24 year-olds signing up to the service has made it a massive success.
The C-Card scheme launched in June and is now available across 47 outlets throughout the city.
It has allowed youngsters to access more than 12,000 condoms, 100 chlamydia tests and led to a number of referrals to Youth Drug and Alcohol Project (YDAP).
After registering, young people are given a bar-coded key fob which they can use to access advice, free condoms and chlamydia testing kits at venues including youth clubs, hospitals and walk-in centres.
Nonnie Crawford, director of Public Health, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, said: “We are delighted that young people are taking advantage of the C-Card scheme and that they feel comfortable accessing sexual health services.
“The scheme provides young people with easy access to professional advice and support, and if it’s appropriate, contraception, so that when they are ready to have sex, they do so safely using a reliable method of contraception that protects them from sexually-transmitted infections as well as an unwanted pregnancy.”
The new figures come at the start of national Sexual Health week, which began yesterday.
The Family Planning Association (FPA) launched its Facts of Life awareness-raising campaign for families.
The campaign offers advice and free resources to parents on how to talk to children about growing up, relationships and sexual health.
Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children and Learning City, Councillor Pat Smith added: “The aim of the C-Card is to encourage young people to actively seek help and advice by making it more accessible.
“This kind of approach allows health professionals and young people to work together and address issues such as reducing teenage pregnancy and substance misuse.”
For more information about the Sunderland C-Card scheme log onto www.yourhealthsunderland.com/c-card.
For more information about the FPA Facts of Life campaign and free resources, visit www.fpa.org.uk.