Free condoms to be made available to all third level students, Minister for Health confirms
"It is crucial we work to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies."
Free condoms are to be made available to all third level students from September, Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed.
The service will ensure that condoms are available free of charge at every Irish third level institution from the beginning of this college year.
Minister Harris said the move is part of a government strategy to promote better sexual health across the country.
"The first phase of the service will see a dispenser service being implemented across third-level colleges and university access points in quarter four of 2019," he said.
“As Minister for Health, I believe it is crucial we work to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies, increase awareness about sexually transmitted infections and improve sexual health.”
The move comes following recommendations from the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment to increase access to free contraception.
The National Condom Distribution Service handed out 409,319 free condoms and 287,565 lubricant sachets last year.
The government also has plans to introduce a Pre- Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programme later this year.
PrEP is the medication taken by HIV negative people to reduce the risk of getting the disease after having sex without a condom.
It reduces the risk of contracting HIV from sex by more than 90%, and over 70% among those who inject drugs. The medication is currently available with a prescription. It costs around €100 for one month's supply.
“This is one of a number of things we are doing to promote sexual health," said Harris. "We have allocated €500,000 to join the Fast Track Cities Initiative and increase community HIV testing."
“Later this year, we will roll out PrEP. The working group on the provision of free contraception is also due to report in September with policy options in this regard."