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New sexual health scheme on campus

Stall on sexual health and World AIDs Day, at the Student Life Centre during weeks 9 and 10 Photo: Anna Evans

Last year, the university saw the closure of UNISEX, a service providing counselling in relation to sexual health, alcohol and drugs, as part of the ongoing cuts in higher education both locally and nationally.

Considering this void, Welfare Officer for the University of Sussex Students’ Union, Jo Goodman, together with the Health and Wellbeing Coordinator at the new Student Life Centre, Amanda Griffiths, are launching a new sexual health scheme on campus.

The union has stated that “accessibility of contraception and information is vital if students are to be encouraged to make informed and positive decisions about their own sexual health.
“Following the closure of UNISEX …we recognise that sexual health advice and support has become less readily available to students.”
The C-Card scheme partners with the NHS funded Brighton SWISH Project and it aims at providing “convenient and accessible contraception and sexual health advice for students.” The scheme was launched last week in the Student Life Centre.

During their lunch break, in weeks 9 and 10, students are encouraged to go and pick-up a self-testing Chlamydia kit, which they can return to the stall to be sent off for testing. Once the test has been returned to the stall students will also receive gifts. The timing of the launching of the scheme was not only aimed at promoting the C-Card scheme, but also to raise awareness of World Aids Day (1 December).

The scheme was launched last week in the Student Life Centre. From January, students under 25 who want to be part of the scheme will be able to get a C-card, after attending a meeting with a volunteer who will issue the card for them.
The card will enable students to get free condoms from over 100 assigned places on and off campus.

Kelly McBride, President of the Sussex LGBTQ Society stated: “The Students’ Union has been very suppportive of the LGBTQ Society over the last few years and we understand the challenges that they face in providing sexual health, drug and alcohol services without a dedicated team and sufficient funding.

“The LGBTQ Society works with organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) to ensure free condoms, lube and dental dams are available for LGBTQ students at Sussex at all times – and we often make these available to the wider student population through outreach.  We have found it harder to get resources so freely with the closure of UNISEX but we know that our members find what we can supply very useful. “I think the university management need to recognise how important these services are to students.”

Kelly added: “UNISEX has left a massive gap and I can’t put across how  important it was in supporting the LGBTQ Society. They did so much for the well-being of students at Sussex and I doubt many people realised it at the time, but people have definitely noticed that they’re gone, along with the support that they provided.
“The lack of sexual health provision has been very apparent this year – particularly during Freshers’ Week when I took some condoms down to a stall, along with some information leaflets, and students literally ran to get them. They were gone within 5 minutes!”

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