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Holidaymakers flying out for a Fair Fortnight in the sunshine are being reminded of the importance of practising safer sex while on holiday.
Sexual health experts from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are reminding tourists leaving this weekend to go on holiday that with rates of sexually transmitted infections continuing to rise*, safer sex is just as important abroad as it is here.
And as C-Card Co-ordinator Julie McGrory points out, with free condoms available, it's easy to protect yourself: "There are plenty of places where you can stock up on free condoms so there's no excuse! Even if you don't think you'll be having sex when you go away, it's much better to be prepared and have some condoms in your luggage just in case".
In Greater Glasgow the condoms are available from a number of venues through the C-card scheme, which also offers free and confidential advice and information. In Renfrewshire and Inverclyde condoms and advice and information can be obtained for free from a variety of local sexual health clinics.
Concern is growing about the numbers of Scots contracting sexually transmitted infections, and clinicians are keen to ensure all sections of the community are aware of the risks. In the first three months of 2006 there were 4546 diagnoses of chlamydia in Scotland, of which almost two thirds were among women. 84% of the 220 gonorrhoea diagnoses, meanwhile, were among men. Rates of infection are highest among the under-25 age group.
Julie says the summer holidays make people especially vulnerable: "The simple fact is that when you're on holiday it's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and a lot of people are more sexually active abroad than they might be at home.
"Also, when you meet someone on holiday things may well move a lot faster and so you might not be so aware of your partner's sexual history. We want people to have a great time, but by remembering to pack condoms in your luggage you can make sure it's only souvenirs you bring back with you."
* More information on the C-Card scheme can be obtained via www.sandyford.org.
* * Source: Health Protection Scotland
* For more information contact Annalena Winslow at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4447.