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Hands off - HSE asking young to 'have online sex' to help curb virus

HSE makes call as a rising number of young are infected

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Young people asked to substitute phone sex for the real thing

Young people asked to substitute phone sex for the real thing

Young people asked to substitute phone sex for the real thing

Young people are being asked to chose having sex online or over the phone to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The new advice is designed to try to prevent people who don't live together from having sex, if possible.

It says people should consider masturbating or having 'phone sex' or 'internet sex' to avoid close contact as the country continues to battle against the spread of the coronavirus.

The new information campaign from the HSE and the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) also said people should be washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after sex.

In a letter to pharmacies this weekend, the HSE's safe sex and crisis pregnancy programme and the IPU said that "while sexual health may not be a primary healthcare focus in the current environment, as restrictions ease, there is a strong possibility that heightened sexual risk taking will occur and people's sexual health and wellbeing will be affected."

"Young adults in particular are affected by crisis pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and are more likely to engage in sexual activity with one partner.

"It is very important that accurate and trustworthy information is freely available," the letter said.

There has been renewed increase in the role that young people play in the spread of Covid-19 as lockdown restrictions eased in recent weeks.

Rise

Because they are less likely to experience serious symptoms, there has been criticism from some quarters about lack of social distancing and organising of house parties and other social events among young people.

However there has been a rise in cases among younger people as restrictions were eased.

The new information campaign, which is aimed at sending young people into pharmacies for advice and information, is called 'Play It Safe!'

Leaflets which will be available in pharmacies include advice on how to reduce the spread of Covid-19 via sexual activity. People are being told to "only be sexually active with a partner living in your household".

"If you decide to be sexually active with someone living outside of your household, limit it to as few partners as possible, preferably one regular partner," the leaflet said.

Couples are being told to avoid sexual activity, especially kissing, if their partner has any Covid-19 symptoms.

The HSE said that having sex does include a risk of spreading Covid-19.

Consent

The HSE and the IPU will also be using social media to encourage young people to talk to their pharmacist if they have concerns or questions.

The new leaflet also includes information on contraception, including emergency contraception, and PrEP and PEP: drugs which stop HIV transmission and infection respectively.

It also includes information on the importance of consent.

The leaflets will be available in pharmacies as part of "sexual health protection packs", which also include a free promotional condom.