Free condoms and chlamydia testing – the C-Card has it covered
The number of places where young people in West Sussex can use a special card to get free condoms and confidential advice is set to double.
The C-Card Scheme, available to 13 to 21 year-olds right across the county, is being relaunched by Sexual Health West Sussex. The aim is to reduce teenage conception rates and incidence of chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections by increasing condom use among young people.
The UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe, and in Adur, Crawley and Worthing the conception rate for girls under 18 is higher than the national average.
In West Sussex, more than 1,500 young people were diagnosed with chlamydia in 2013, and nationwide one in ten checked test positive for the sexually transmitted infection.
Through positive intervention the C-Card Scheme addresses these trends to improve the sexual health of young people in West Sussex.
The scheme is now being expanded, with a new logo, new partners and new health benefits. For example, it has been integrated with the Chlamydia Screening Programme, so young people have easier access to a testing kit.
The C-Card Scheme operates in Billingshurst, Bognor, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Cuckfield, East Grinstead, Hayward’s Heath, Henfield, Horsham, Lancing, Littlehampton, Petworth, Selsey and Worthing.
30 new venues are primed to become partners and, once they receive the necessary training, the C-Card Scheme is set be strengthened countywide and extended into Goring, Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Midhurst, Shoreham and Steyning.
13 to 21-year-olds can qualify for a C-Card once assessed at a registration venue by a trained practitioner, who checks they are competent to consent, shows them how to use a condom, and gives advice on emergency contraception and other sexual health matters.
Once used five times, they must see a practitioner who, after reviewing their personal circumstances and sexual health needs, can quickly renew their C-Card.
Friends Keila DocWra and Shannon Neal, aged 21 and 20 from Durrington, recommend the C-Card scheme for its convenience and confidentiality.
Keila said: “I think it is a really good idea. Once you’ve got the card you can just go in, pick up some condoms with no questions asked.
“The card is really discreet too because it has no personal information on it. You can just pop it in your purse or pocket, and nobody else has to know.”
Shannon added asking for condoms is sometimes embarrassing, especially when younger, but using the C-Card makes it a lot easier, as well as quicker.
She said: “The more places that are part of the scheme, the more people will know about it, and the more inclined people will be to get a C-Card and use it.”
Richard Williams, Lead Health Advisor at Sexual Health West Sussex, said: “Providing good access to expert advice and free contraception through the C-Card Scheme improves the sexual health of young people in West Sussex.
“The registration and review process provides a non-judgemental, safe and confidential space to talk about sex and sexuality with a trusted adult.
“And talking with a trained practitioner helps young people get accurate up to date information, take responsibility for their sexual health, and most importantly increase their chances of staying healthy.”