A new campaign is encouraging people to ask their pharmacist for advice
A new study has found a significant increase in the number of sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the last number of years.
A survey carried out by Healthy Ireland in 2015 found that 17% of those having sex with someone outside of a steady relationship did not use any form of protection.
A new campaign launched today is encouraging people to ask their pharmacist for advice about their sexual health and contraception needs.
It found that the number of STI notifications rose from 3,361 notifications reported in 1995 to 12,626 in 2014.
Acting Health Minister Varadkar said: "This is a really welcome campaign which can help us to address the stigma around sexual health and also highlight the dangers associated with the recent rise in infections".
"It's great to see the pharmacy sector taking such an active role in improving sexual health and combating the rise in infections".
The campaign is being launched for the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme and the Irish Family Planning Association.
According to IPU President Kathy Maher: "The incidence of STIs is on the rise and it is critical that people take steps to protect their health and get tested".
"Your local pharmacist can offer you a private and confidential consultation and can help you arrange to get tested. Your pharmacist can also offer advice on contraception, as well as dispensing emergency contraception if required".
Ms Maher added that: "80% of STIs are symptomless. For that reason, even if you feel healthy, if you have had unprotected sex, you should ask your pharmacist for advice about getting tested".
A list of free STI testing clinics can be found here, and many pharmacies now stock home testing kits.