Holidaymakers flying out for a fortnight in the sunshine are being reminded of the importance of practising safer sex and drinking sensibly while on holiday.
Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Director of Public Health, said:
“We don’t want to be killjoys, but we would like to remind tourists planning to go off on holiday this summer that the risk of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and HIV transmission exists worldwide and that safer sex is just as vital abroad as it is here in Scotland.”
And as Dr de Caestecker points out that, with free condoms available, it’s easy to protect yourself:
“Take condoms with you, 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 Sandyford Inverclyde and 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 2007, 1096 people within the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area were diagnosed with chlamydia – two thirds of them women. Of the 77 new cases of gonorrhoea identified within Greater Glasgow and Clyde between January and March this year, a similar proportion (51, or 66%) of these were men. Rates of infection are highest among the under-25 age group.
Dr de Caestecker added that the summer holidays make people especially vulnerable:
“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.”
Surveys have shown that people also tend to drink more during the warmer weather and this can lead to injuries and accidents and uncharacteristic behaviour.
The higher temperatures mean people are less hydrated, leading to a higher concentration of alcohol in the body.
According to a Scottish Health Survey, 49 per cent of men in Greater Glasgow consume four or more units of alcohol on their heaviest drinking day, compared to the Scottish figure of 45 per cent.
For women the figures are 33 per cent who drink three or more units on their heaviest drinking day, one per cent higher than the national figure.
Alcohol dehydrates, and to avoid this, alternate alcoholic drinks with a soft drink, eat before and during drinking, and avoid drinking in rounds.
Take personal safety precautions by not mixing water activities with alcohol, don’t let drink lead to risky situations and always have enough money for a taxi home.
Notes to Editors -
For more information on the C-Card scheme, please see www.sandyford.org.
One unit is the equivalent of half a pint of beer or lager or a small glass of wine.
Drinkline, 0800 917 8282, is a free and confidential telephone helpline for people who need help or support with their own or someone else’s drinking, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information on alcohol visit www.infoscotland.com/alcohol.
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.