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This content was first published 10 years ago and may be superseded by events or new information. Please bear this in mind when evaluating this news article.

“Whoever you like this Valentine’s Day, love safer sex”

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launches its Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign this week in collaboration with Think Contraception, Durex and Merck Sharp and Dohme. The campaign, which will be rolled out in campuses across Ireland over the next fortnight, will be launched in UCD today at 11am.

45,000 SHAG packs will be distributed to college campuses. The packs contain a condom, a sachet of lubricant and information regarding safe sex and STIs. USI is also launching – the first website dedicated to informing third level students about safe sex.

With almost a third of Irish men and women (30 per cent) never receiving any sexual health education in school, information provided within each SHAG pack aims to help students have safer sex and make informed decisions regarding their contraceptive choices. Despite the low number of people who have received formal sex education, there is a thirst for knowledge among Irish students, with 81 per cent agreeing that sex education enables people to be more responsible with sex.

See attached a photo of the USI SHAG pack.

Quick statistics from the Durex Wellbeing Global Survey:

  • 80 per cent of Irish men and women risk STIs and unplanned pregnancy by not always using a condom with a new partner or someone who is not their main partner.
  • Only one in five Irish men and women say one of their major sources of sex education was from school. A huge 41 per cent say they get most their knowledge from friends and peers, 35 per cent say they turn to books for insight, 31 per cent look to magazines and 27 per cent get it from mainstream television programmes.
  • And what’s more, people in Ireland who used a condom when they lost their virginity were three times more likely to have never experienced an unplanned pregnancy. This result is far higher (1.5 times more likely) than the global average.
  • More than 1 in 5 Irish felt loved when they first had sex and 19 per cent were emotionally prepared for it, while 20 per cent were pleased to have lost their virginity.

SHAG Fortnight Roadshow:
11th Feb – UCD (Official Launch)
13th Feb – Athlone IT
14th Feb – GMIT
18th Feb – DIT (Bolton St)
20th Feb – Limerick IT

Denise McCarthy, USI Vice President for Welfare:
“This year’s SHAG campaign is bigger than ever. With a whole fortnight dedicated to the SHAG roadshows and a brand new SHAG website that exclusively targets third level students, we’re confident that the campaign’s message will resonate with young people across the country. The focus of this campaign is  to promote positive attitudes towards sex and raise awareness to all aspects of sexual health. Sexuality is an integral part of being human, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight or however you define yourself. A healthy sexual relationship can contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing.”

Yvonne Mullally, brand manager of Durex Ireland:
“We know that more than 80 per cent of Irish men and women risk STIs and and unplanned pregnancy by not always using a condom. Every student has the right to good sexual health and good sexual health education. As condoms are the only form of contraception that can protect against both pregnancy and STIs, we want people to feel comfortable using and talking about them. At Durex, we are committed to raising awareness of sexual health education and the importance of safer sex, which is why we are delighted to support the USI with such an important campaign.”

Seamus Creighton, Women’s Health, MSD:
“We recognise that trying to decide which contraception to use can be confusing with so many choices out there. It is so important though for every woman to be aware of the wide range of options available to her and that the contraception she chooses can be tailored to suit her lifestyle. is a great starting point in exploring the available options and our online survey is a useful too to help support further discussion with GPs in identifying the option that best suits your body and lifestyle.”

Organisations supporting the campaign:
IFPA (Irish family planning association)
Dublin Aids Alliance
Think Contraception Eco Cabs
Aids West
Red Ribbon Project
Rape Crisis Network

– ENDS –

For more information contact Ronan Costello, USI Media and Communications Executive, on 085-1164263 or email

This content was first published 10 years ago and may be superseded by events or new information. Please bear this in mind when evaluating this news article.