Improving sexual health

A NEW project aimed at improving the sexual health of young people in Latrobe City and Baw Baw has been launched by headspace Central West Gippsland.

Health promotion officer Kaytlyn Eaton, who is leading the Sexual Health Youth SMS Project, said it had a “particular focus on the sexually transmitted infection chlamydia, due to its high prevalence among young people”.

“Teenage pregnancy in the Latrobe Valley is considerably higher than any other part of Victoria and 80 per cent of all chlamydia cases in Victoria are among 15 to 29 year olds.

“By being proactive about seeking sexual health information and encouraging youth to make responsible choices, the SHY project aims to educate about responsible sexual behaviour and seeking help early,” Ms Eaton said.

She said the project encouraged “parents, teachers and carers to discuss these issues with their young people” while a web page about the project had been created for parents.

“In harnessing the latest communication technologies used by youth this project will use SMS messaging, social media and online tools to engage youth and get them thinking about their sexual behaviour.”

To participate in the project young people should register online and complete a short online survey tailored to their age group.

They would then be eligible to win an iPad, gift vouchers or movie tickets at the project’s conclusion, Ms Eaton said.

“The statistics in Gippsland are very real and a teenage pregnancy – for example – means a young mum has a much higher likelihood of not completing her schooling, ending up in lower paid employment and potentially living in poor housing conditions,” Ms Eaton said.

“We all have a responsibility to support young people to make informed choices”.

To find out more or to register for this project visit the headspace Central West Gippsland website