UP and down the country students will be packing up their bedrooms and heading off to university this week.
And while Freshers’ Week is all about having a good time, revellers are being warned that there are places where they could be at more risk of catching an STI.
Experts say students will have unprotected sex an average of 12 times during their time at university.
Now, they have mapped the ones with the best and worst sexual health services across the UK.
Liverpool University comes out on top at promoting good sexual health, while the University of South Wales is bottom of the pile.
As part of Sexual Health Week, online pharmacy Zava analysed 50 of the country’s biggest unis and surveyed 1001 students.
The scores are based on the quality and availability of information online, as well as the locations and operating hours of clinics.
Liverpool offers both an onsite sexual health service and one that allows walk-ins, giving students easy access to services and support.
The research showed that 33 of the UK’s largest universities don’t have a sexual health clinic open on weekends and just 12 have one that is open in the evenings.
It means that students that have little free time between their lectures Monday to Friday struggle to find an opportunity to seek help.
Also, all of the university clinics surveyed are open less than regular office hours and over a third don’t have regular opening times.
Of the 50 universities analysed, almost half have off-site clinics, so students need to leave their campus to get tested and consider how they would travel to the clinic.
Even those that have access to on-site clinics might struggle to get seen, with 13 of the 27 onsite university clinics not accepting drop-ins.
The research also showed that of the 50 universities analysed, 21 lacked any detailed STI information or specific sexual health support pages for students online.
Both the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leeds websites lacked any detailed information on sexual health.
It is not just online though – 87 per cent of students said their university should do more to promote good sexual health.
A further 14 per cent felt that their university does not offer good access to sexual health services, such as access to a nurse, free condoms and STI test kits.
Students are at risk of catching an STI as well as spreading an STI they’ve already got
Dr Kathryn Basford
While, 11 per cent of students – over 250,000 students nationally – say they wouldn’t know where to go to get checked, rising to 26 per cent for students in Belfast.
Almost half of students said they put off getting tested because they’re worried about embarrassment in front of a doctor or nurse.
A third say they are concerned they might be seen by friends, while a quarter put off getting tested out of fear of what the results might say.
Dr Kathryn Basford, GP at Zava said: “Many students are lacking both virtual and physical access to sexual health information and resources from their universities.
“Not only does this prevent students who may already have STIs getting treatment, but can lead to them unknowingly spreading infections.
“While universities should look to educate and provide access to sexual health services for their students, they also need to take some precautions of their own.
“As our data shows, the average university student will have unprotected sex 12 times during their studies.
“This puts them at risk of catching an STI as well as spreading an STI they’ve already got.”
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