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House of Keys Sitting 13 June 2006 13 June 2006

Question 6 - Mr Karran, MHK to Minister for Education

For Oral Anwer: The Hon Member for Onchan (Mr Karran) to ask the Minister for Education

Will your continued opposition to the provision of condoms in sixth forms in secondary schools and views on sexuality -

  1. obstruct the Department of Health and Social Security’s recent health promotions highlighting the need to educate young adults regarding sexual health;
  2. have long term effects with increased chlamydia infection and long term costs for the Department of Health and Social Security in their IVF service; and
  3. lead to the human tragedy of HIV infection to young adults who, a generation ago, would not have been exposed to this danger?

Answer (Answered by the Minister for Education)

My private and personal views have no more effect on matters of public policy than those of the Hon Member for Onchan.

  1. There is a need to educate young adults regarding sexual health and this is happening in all secondary schools in the Isle of Man. With reference to health promotion, each school has a programme of Sex and Relationships Education that although at this stage is not standardised, does cover various aspects of sexual health. The Sexual Health Co-ordinator for Schools and IOM College is currently developing pilot work with one of the secondary schools that places an emphasis on relationships and negotiating skills that empowers young people with the knowledge to make healthy choices and access information or advice from the appropriate services. Condoms are available free to young people from the Family Planning Service and the GUM clinic. They can be accessed from vending machines in the majority of public toilets, are freely available for sale in local supermarkets and chemists. This issue of providing condoms has not been discussed with the Department of Education as yet, so it would not be pertinent to pre-empt any such discussion.
  2. Young adults are educated and discuss the long-term effects of Chlamydia in great depth, so they can make informed choices for themselves. Young adults are encouraged to discuss the potential health costs of the Chlamydia infection if it remains undiagnosed and are encouraged to seek advice from the appropriate services if they have been at risk. As mentioned previously, condoms are not illegal for young adults to purchase or get free from sexual health services, so they do have access to them in order to prevent infection. Any view on sexuality will have little implication on the transmission of Chlamydia per se, and all young adults are advised as to the routes of transmission and ways to protect infection of all sexually transmitted infections, including Chlamydia.
  3. The general public have been aware of the impact of HIV infection since the 1980’s. The UK government developed a hard-hitting campaign to raise the public’s awareness of HIV and, for that generation, the campaign is still remembered. Young people today are not so judgemental about HIV infection, the majority of which is acquired through heterosexual intercourse, via blood transfusion and tissue transplant (in countries where blood and transplant tissue is not screened), injecting drug users and from mother to baby (vertical transmission) in countries where there is little treatment for HIV. Young adults today are made aware of the consequences of putting themselves at risk of acquiring HIV especially taking into account that there is no cure for HIV at present even though treatment is very effective and the likelihood of developing AIDS is much reduced. The young adults of a generation ago were at risk of acquiring HIV if they practiced unprotected sex just as any person who is sexually active is at risk today.

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