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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June 2008, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
School sex clinics prove popular
By Dhruti Shah
Newsbeat reporter

The clinics were set up to tackle teenage sexual health problems

Sexual health clinics in schools could cut teenage pregnancy and infection rates.

That is according to a new report which has been published by the University of West England.

Researchers surveyed teenagers who visited clinics set up in 15 schools and pupil referral units in Bristol.

Many of those quizzed admitted they probably would not have bothered seeking help if the service had not been on-site.

Sex education

The Bristol branch of the national sexual health charity Brook managed the scheme for the two-year pilot period.

More than 12,000 pupils accessed the service during that time.

All of the schools involved were chosen because they're located in areas which are not that wealthy.

Although sex education is now a key feature of most curriculums, mostly it's generally limited to teachers giving advice and pupils being referred to health workers.

The teenagers who took part in the study were given access to a wide range of contraception including the morning after pill, pregnancy tests and check-ups for sexually transmitted infections.

Eleven of those tested were diagnosed with Chlamydia, with one person treated three times.

Teenage reaction

Hengrove Community Arts College in South Bristol holds a regular 'drop in' session for its students.

It's far easy to visit the clinic than go and see a doctor
Nicola, student

Louise, 15, said she preferred this to normal sex education classes.

She said: "My mum thinks it's a good idea for me to go somewhere and it's a chance for me to have a one-to-one conversation with someone who doesn't judge me."

Associate headteacher Lyn Chamberlain didn't know which pupils had used the service but said the take-up had been quite high.

She said: "We took part because we wanted to engage with the students and the community and I believe those who use the service do so because they feel comfortable."

Advice given

Youth workers and nurses visited the schools at least once each week and spoke to students about relationships, sex issues and anything else they wanted.

Dr Annie Evans, medical director of Brook Young People's Services Bristol said: "What's really remarkable is 48% of those who made appointments were male.

"Many young men find it difficult to go into what they see to be a contraception clinic.

"This service offers far more than that and is easily accessible."

Teenage couple
Teenagers visited the sexual health clinics to discuss relationship worries

Bristol Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator Anne Colquhoun, said: "This is different to most other schemes because of the scale of the operation.

"It cost 200,000 a year to fund which can seem quite expensive but if it is preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexual health problems, then it is worth it."

Bristol Council has extended funding for the scheme and it is now being rolled out to six more schools in the city.

Ms Colquhoun said she hoped it would be picked up nationally.

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