Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise among students at the University of Huddersfield.
Now nursing staff have been awarded funding of £5,000 from the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) to develop a bespoke STI screening service.
The aim is to increase engagement with the male population of the university – whether or not they are registered with the university practice.
Following a rise in STI at the university Sam McNeely, practice nurse manager at the University Health Centre, undertook a study and discovered that only a third of patients attending the health centre sexual health clinic were males.
Since January this year the clinic has had 55 positive chlamydia diagnoses which she said underlines the need for STI screening and the promotion of screening in men.
“We did a survey and found that men were either embarrassed or felt they were invincible. We were shocked by that,” says Sam. “If this project is successful it could roll out to other universities. It is something that can be mimicked. The key is that testing can be carried out in the privacy of people’s homes.”
Sam carried out an audit for for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 looking at the period August 1 to December 31. She compared numbers of males attending the sexual health clinic against females and found there was a significant gap. In 2014 there were 345 women but only 73 men.
A promotional campaign has been developed that will include an information pack for male students containing leaflets, condoms, a urine testing pot for gonorrhoea (GC) and chlamydia, and an appointment card to book for Blood Borne Virus (BBV) blood tests at the university. BBVs include HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B and C.
The packs will be available from reception, clinicians, and toilets within the University Health Centre and from student union premises, the university gym and main Halls of Residence.
Pop-up clinics will also be provided at strategic locations on campus/halls of residence/gym. Secure drop-off points for samples will be available throughout the health centre, such as the postbox for samples in reception.
Around 1,000 packs have been taken up by students with more than 60 returned so far. Sam and her team expect their busiest time to be around Freshers’ Week in September, and are gearing up to order more packs to cope.
The project, which began in April, will end in February of 2018.