Irish Examiner: Cork’s eight sexual health groups unite for better services
Eight sexual health groups in Cork have joined forces to make their services more visible.
The Cork Sexual Health Centre said they hope the united approach will reach more people.
The centre also said the increase in the number of people seeking its help was a sign that the stigma around sexual health is reducing. They have also seen an increase in the number of people seeking post-abortion counselling, in the wake of the legalisation of abortion here.
One client who approached the centre recently was seeking help more than a decade after having had an abortion.
The details emerged at the launch of the first inter-agency online portal to unite all eight sexual health organisations in Cork. These are: the Sexual Health Centre; the city’s Youth Health Services; the Gay Project; LINC; the Sexual Violence Centre Cork; the city’s Sexual Assault Treatment Unit and STI/GUM clinic at Cork’s South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH), and the Cork HIV Treatment Clinic in CUH.
The groups all work in the areas of sexual health and wellbeing, sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing, sexuality, HIV treatment and support, sexual violence, and healthy relationships.
Their new website, mysexualhealth.ie, is a one-stop-shop for easy and direct access to the organisations and their services, which cover all matters of sexual health, healthy relationships, and wellbeing.
They said this website is the first, fully dedicated site of its kind in Cork to provide this range of information.
It was developed thanks to Healthy Ireland funding, made available through the Local Community Development Committee and Cork City Council.
Dr Martin Davoren, the executive director of the Sexual Health Centre, said all the groups share common goals and the inter-agency approach should help them get their message out more widely and, ultimately, make their response more effective.
Sexual health is an integral part of everyone’s life. It is fantastic to see the launch of this interagency resource for the people.
The centre’s spokesperson, Nadia Reckmann, said that last year the centre saw a dramatic increase in the number of people calling its helpline, seeking advice, and looking for STI screening. The figures will be published in its annual report in a few weeks.
“There is a strong stigma when it comes to sexual health, but the fact that more people are ready to come forward, and ask for help, is a good sign.
“People feel more free to come forward and talk about the issues,” she said.
Daniel Quealey, the clinical nurse manager in genito-urinary medicine at the STI/GUM clinic at SIVUH, said the website will create greater awareness and understanding of the full range of sexual health services and supports available in the city.
“Each organisation will bring their own unique level of expertise to the forum and we will all strive to create a reliable, evidence-based resource for those seeking information on any sexual health-related concerns,” he said.
Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn, who launched the website, said the united approach will help make the services more visible in the community.