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The online battle against teen STDs

PUBLISHED: 10:08 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 17:24 25 August 2010

OLD SCHOOL: The renown Monty Python The Meaning Of Life sex education sketch.

OLD SCHOOL: The renown Monty Python The Meaning Of Life sex education sketch.

A SEXUAL revolution is underway that could see infection rates plummet through innovations that include free condoms sent through the post in discreet packaging.

A SEXUAL revolution is underway that could see infection rates plummet through innovations that include free condoms sent through the post in discreet packaging.

Greenwich Primary Care Trust is leading the country's fight against sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy using internet campaigns that are big on practical guidance.

In the first 12 months since starting its Chlamydia home screening kits from website www.checkurself.org.uk in Jan 2008, 25 per cent of 16-24 year olds were screened in the borough.

It became one of the country's top 10 screening sites within months of launching.

The online site sticks two fingers up at established views of teenage sex education parodied by John Cleese in the Monty Python film, The Meaning Of Life.

The homepage, which has two bunnies in an amorous embrace next to the London skyline, has proved so successful as a model of best practice, it has been rolled out across all the capital's PCTs.

Residents aged over 16 can order a pack of 12 condoms online for free per month.

The site directs browsers to treatment centres, has a safe sex quiz, a Facebook link and what to do if tests return positive.

A second website launched in October, www.greenwichsexualhealth.org - cheekily promoted under the acronym 'gsh!' - aims to provide home test kits for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

It is being developed in partnership with the Health Protection Agency and is set to go live in Spring 2010.

The sites are part of the PCT's drive to augment sex education in schools and colleges, and to equip teenagers and adults with advice to make informed choices.

David Pinson is the trust's health development manager and helped steer it's strategy on sexual health.

He said: "Sex education is not a one off inoculation against making mistakes in the future.

"There needs to be advice and support in place at every stage of schooling through to university and beyond. Sexual education is very important. People do take risks in life but it's about making informed decisions.

"In areas of deprivation across London there is a significant challenge. Sexual health services have to be seen as accessible.

"The websites are very simple, user friendly and do what they say on the tin."

The projects were led by Greenwich PCT and then backed by Lambeth and Lewisham trusts.

From next April, the PCT name will be dropped and replaced by NHS Greenwich - the health commissioner - and Greenwich Community Health Services, which will be the provider.

All healthcare funding, including acute and chronic care in hospital, will be decided through the commissioning arm.

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