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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK
Website offers sex health advice
Sussed on sex website
The website sets out information on key services
Embarrassment is stopping many young people in Scotland from getting advice on sexual health, doctors have warned.

Health charity Developing Parent Partnerships has launched a website to encourage them to seek out help.

It found that 46% of 16 to 24-year-olds would not discuss the subject face-to-face with their GPs.

A majority said they prefer to gain sex health knowledge via the internet. DPP said it wants to reassure young people about sexual health issues.

Scotland has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe, while infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia have been on the rise in recent years, with the latter increasing by 39% between 1999 and 2002.

DPP has launched a campaign, Sussed on Sex, which offers online advice on a range of sexual health services.

45% mistakenly believed they had to see a GP before accessing sexual health clinics
82% said they would be more likely to get help if they knew what to expect from a clinic
59% wanted to know exactly what an STI test involves
81% said they would like more sexual health information to help decide which service to use
67% said they would prefer to remain anonymous when trying to get help
78% said online information was the preferred source of help

Adverts featuring the website will be appearing in student unions, as well as on billboards beside university campuses, in GP surgeries and further education colleges.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of DPP, said: "This research shows that simply being equipped with some basic information such as what happens in a STI test can help to give young people the confidence to make the right decisions about their sexual health."

Dr Ewen Stewart, an Edinburgh GP with a special interest in sexual health and a member of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said too many young people were suffering through lack of advice.

'Remove embarrassment'

He said: "There is a desperate need to improve education and awareness about sexual health, as the rising incidence of sexually transmitted infection shows.

"We must remove the embarrassment associated with seeking help on these highly personal matters and encourage young people to be more aware of the support that is available to them."

Susan Deacon MSP, co-convener of the Scottish parliamentary cross-party group on sexual health, said improving sexual health was one of the biggest public health challenges in modern times.

"Young people need and deserve information and support to enable them to make informed choices about their sexual health and wellbeing," she said.

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