Newcastle ranked 33rd for sexual health services provision

Grace Dean reports on the news that 87% of students believe their university could do more to promote good sexual health

Grace Dean
9th January 2020
Image: Marco Verch (Flickr)
Newcastle has been ranked 33rd of 50 UK universities on its provision of student sexual health services.

The online pharmacy Zava ranked the UK's top 50 universities on their sexual health facilities, and rated Newcastle above Northumbria, Leeds and Durham but below Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester.

Zava rated the universities across four main metrics: the quality and visibility of online resources in search engine results and on the University website, accessibility of services (drop-ins or appointments), location (on or off campus) and the opening hours, such as whether they include weekends and evenings.

These four elements were weighted equally to produce an overall score for each university, and Newcastle scored half marks for its provision of online resources and opening hours, but was given just a 40% score for the location of its sexual health services and their accessibility, giving it a total score of 45%. A survey of 12,000 students by the Tab in 2016 reported that 13% of Newcastle students had contracted an STI at some point, coming in at joint third of 36 universities surveyed.

The University of Liverpool topped Zava's ranking with the on-campus location of its sexual health services and the availability of walk-ins being especially commended.

The University of South Wales, however, came in at the bottom, receiving a rating of only 21.25% due to the low accessibility of its sexual health services and lack of online resources.

47% of students say they avoid taking an STI test out of embarrassment

Zava additionally interviewed 1001 UK students on their experiences of sexual health at university. It was discovered that on average students have unprotected sex 12 times during their years at university, yet 47% of students say they avoid taking an STI test out of embarrassment. 87% of those surveyed said that they believe their university could do more to promote good sexual health, with Zava reporting that 42% of the 50 UK universities analysed do not have a dedicated webpage to educate students on STIs and 66% not having sexual health clinic open at weekends.

This could have in part led to the 2% increase in chlamydia diagnoses among young people aged 15 to 24 years from 2017 to 2018 reported by Public Health England, despite there being a 1% decrease in students of that age taking chlamydia tests in the same time period.

At Newcastle, The Student Advice Centre in the Students' Union offers free condoms, lubricant and home chlamydia testing kits. The Students' Union also runs a dedicated SHAG (Sexual Health and Guidance) Week each year, which this year offered free HIV+ Fast Track testing alongside signposting to services in the wider city. Through the NHS, Newcastle Sexual Health Service furthermore provides a range of free and confidential sexual health services including contraception, STI testing, information on abortion services, and both walk-in clinics and booked appointments through the New Croft Centre.

Zava's table of results can be found here.

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AUTHOR: Grace Dean
Editor-in-Chief of the Courier 2019/20, News Editor 2018/19, writer since 2016 and German & Business graduate. I've written for all of our sections, but particularly enjoy writing breaking news and data-based investigative pieces. Best known in the office for making tea and blasting out James Blunt. Twitter: @graceldean

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