HSE evaluating online testing platform to alleviate pressure STI services

The HSE is evaluating an online testing platform to try and alleviate pressure on current STI services.

HSE evaluating online testing platform to alleviate pressure STI services

The HSE is evaluating an online testing platform to try and alleviate pressure on current STI services.

Maeve O'Brien, interim programme lead for the Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, told a conference in Cork that a pilot evaluation of the platform was taking place, so can people check their symptoms online and if required make an onward referral.

"That is a piece that is about to kick off," she told those attending the conference.

Ms O'Brien spoke about the National Health Strategy 2015-2020 and moves to develop aspects of the strategy into the future, such as developing a module in relation to children in care, stating "we are really moving in the right direction".

Other initiatives include new advice booklets for parents such as 'Making the 'Big Talk' many Small Talks' and working with Spun Out on educational material for those aged 12-16.

However, when it came to sexual health services, she referred to the fact that it has been without a clinical lead for the past 18 months as "challenging".

Also speaking at the conference in Cork was Dr Kate Dawson of the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, who has been involved in recent research into pornography.

Ms Dawson said the research concluded with five recommendations for parent-child discussions about porn: acknowledge that porn exists; acknowledge curiosity about sex and pornography; explain that people in porn are acting; discuss the differences between fantasy and reality in how porn portrays sex; and make young people aware of available supports and tell-tale signs of problematic porn use.

Dr Dawson also said funding has been secured to develop an online porn literacy programme that will hopefully be piloted in the next year or two and that could ultimately be made freely available to schools and parents.

"We don't want anyone to have to pay for it," Dr Dawson told the conference. She also said: "We need to be tailoring porn literacy interventions to different age groups", stressing that this needed to be done at age-appropriate levels and starting with younger children.

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