Teenagers in Poole and Bournemouth are being targeted for chlamydia testing, contraception and abortion advice through social networking websites.
The Poole and Bournemouth Primary Care Trust (PCT) has launched a new campaign using banner advertisements on the Bebo and Facebook websites, popular with younger teenagers, linking to its ‘F-risky’ sexual health website.
The website contains information for young people about getting contraception, obtaining the morning-after pill for free and having an abortion. There is an opportunity to order a postal chlamydia testing kit.
The site also contains further links to sites such as Marie Stopes International’s ‘likeitis.org’ for young people, which uses bright colours, cartoons, quizzes and games to make “learning about sexual health fun”.
Policy-makers say that more sex education is needed in order to combat Britain’s high levels of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Sue Meakin, of the Poole and Bournemouth PCT, says that one in ten young people aged 15 to 24 now test positive for chlamydia both locally and nationally.
But critics say the ‘safer sex’ approach has had its day. They point to evidence showing that the availability of free contraception for teenagers may increase risk-taking behaviour.
This has been true in relation to condoms. Research from Nottingham University found that condom promotion actually increased STI acquisition, probably by increasing sexual activity through the false hope of consequence-free sex.