CAREPLUS Pharmacy chain, which has several outlets in Limerick, is to distribute thousands of free condoms this Valentine’s week to help to promote a culture of safe sex in Ireland.
Each of the chain’s 60 pharmacies nationwide will take part in “Sexual Health Awareness Week” from February 12 to19.
The event comes as a new report revealed that Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) cases in the mid-west are more common than the winter vomiting bug and ‘flu.
The HSE study found there were nearly 2,500 cases of chlamydia reported between 2013 and 2017 in Limerick, Clare, and North Tipperary.
However, there were just over 1,500 ‘flu cases and almost 550 norovirus infections.
In Limerick, genital warts were also more common than flu.
The free condoms will be packaged with information on the importance of safe sex, and freely available from the counter without asking in each pharmacy.
Figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Unit of the HSE show that nationally, rates of chlamydia, herpes simplex and gonorrhea are on the rise, with people in the age group 15-24 accounted for 51 percent of all chlamydia cases reported.
Condoms are currently considered to a “luxury” item, and subject to the higher rate of VAT.
However CarePlus Commercial Director Niamh Lynch said that given the impact that STIs can have, price should not be a barrier to safe sex.
“If we can draw attention to the matter by distributing free condoms this week, it might give rise to a discussion about whether they are a luxury item”.