Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Teenagers get condom credit cards

Condom packets

Teenagers in a Berkshire town will soon get access to a card which they can use to get free condoms if they go for regular sex advice sessions.

The C Card scheme is designed to reduce Reading's teenage pregnancy rate, which is higher than the national average.

After speaking to trained professionals teenagers will be given a "credit card" which they can take into designated shops to get free contraception.

The town has a much higher than average teenage conception rate.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday showed there were 41.9 conceptions per 1,000 15 to 17-year-olds in 2007 in England and Wales.

The figure for Reading was 51.6 conceptions, well above the 32.8 average for the South East.

'Condom passport'

A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said the scheme would lead to "greater awareness about safer sex, unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections".

"When a young person registers with the scheme, they will receive a credit card size card, which acts as a passport to getting free condoms, sexual health advice and information," he said.

"The C card is given to the young person once they have had a discussion with a trained youth worker or other professional about the use of condoms."

He said the teenagers will have to attend sex education sessions and regular appointments with advisers for the card to remain activated.

Amy Primrose, 19, from Woodley in Reading, told the BBC: "I think there's not enough sex education. We should have more along the line of the precautions.

"We do have a couple of sexual health clinics in Reading and they give out free condoms but I didn't find out about this myself until I actually went in there myself and started asking."

Tim Clewer, from the Mustard Tree charity which runs a pregnancy counselling service in Reading, said: "I think we know that most children will get the best information, the best care and the best support from their family structures.

"But we know that teenage pregnancy affects young people when those things are not there a lot of the time. So I would support this scheme for those young people."

The scheme will be launched in March.

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