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Sexual health in college

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By Sue Horn

By Sue Horn

From September 2004 the post of young people?s outreach nurse was established following funding from the Teenage Pregnancy Unit. One of the aims of the post was to establish a sexual health outreach service in the local College of Further Education, providing a nurse-led contraceptive service, screening for chlamydia, treatment and partner notification of positive chlamydia tests. The clinic sessions have been complemented by:

? The provision of sex education sessions for students on a variety of courses, including students with learning disabilities

? Input into the professional development days of the staff to raise awareness of sexual health issues for young people

? Health promotion activities working with staff from the student services department.

The college provides for approximately 2,000 students in the 16?19 age groups from a wide area, including rural areas where students are transported into college. It provides the students with an alternative service to that provided in their GP surgery, which many are reluctant to attend for sexual health provision as this is often perceived by young people to be lacking in confidentiality and would require them to take time off college.

All attendances at the clinic have been monitored and the service has been well received. This is reflected in the figures for those initially registering with the service and the number of re-attendances.

Sexual health education sessions for students are offered and cover several topics:

? sexually transmitted infections - what are they, how we get them, testing, treatment and location of services

? contraception - an opportunity to look at the methods available and how and where they can be obtained

? visiting a clinic - location of clinics, what we ask, what we do and includes the use of role-play.

Sessions have evaluated well by both students and staff; this has led to an increased demand for sessions with different groups within the college.

The sexual health awareness sessions on the professional development day for staff has provides an overview of:

- teenage conception rates

- sexually transmitted infection rates

- contraceptive methods

- screening for infections

- local services and service provision in college.

In raising awareness in staff this not only allows them to support students who may turn to them for advice and information but gives them the information to help them signpost the young person to the correct service without delay.

Sexual health promotion within college is provided in a variety of ways:

- There is a permanent display board providing sexual health information and leaflets on the main corridor where the clinic is held and this is changed on a regular basis.

- Manned stands and events have been held in collaboration with the student services e.g. during contraceptive awareness week we held a speed-dating event and sexual health information was available.

- Attendance at the Freshers? Fair each year allows not only sexual health information to be available to the students, but allows the advertising of the sexual health clinic in college, so that new students are made aware of the service from the beginning of their time in college

- Articles are written for the student and staff magazine.

Students and staff can contact me outside of the clinic hours for advice and support. Posters are displayed throughout the college advertising the service and have my mobile telephone number. The provision of a text service is an acceptable and popular means of communication for the students.

In summary the clinic in college has improved access to services by providing a confidential, comprehensive, open access sexual health service in non-clinical premises. It has raised the profile of sexual health services through the provision of health education, and contributes to quicker access to chlamydia testing reaching a group of people who may find it difficult to access traditional GUM services, therefore contributing towards the government target of 48 hour access.

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