New home for sex clinic

GROWING numbers of Hunter teens and young adults are seeking advice about sexually transmitted infections and contraception.

Not-for-profit health service Family Planning NSW has expanded its Newcastle operations in response to demand.

It officially opened a new clinic at 384 Hunter Street yesterday, relocating from smaller premises in Cooks Hill.

About 3800 Hunter clients made 8000 visits to Family Planning last year regarding contraception and safe sex, and for pap tests. About half were aged 24 or under.

Family Planning NSW medical director Deborah Bateson said Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons were reserved for a youth drop-in clinic.

‘‘What we do with young people, we need to make sure we remove any barriers that might be in place that would put them off seeking advice and help about keeping themselves healthy,’’ Dr Bateson said.

Accessing sexual health services was not a sign young adults were behaving irresponsibly.

‘‘When young people come to us they’re actually being very responsible making that step to come to a clinic,’’ she said.

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About 1800 consultations a year at Family Planning’s Hunter clinic relate to chlamydia.

Dr Bateson said the region had recorded an encouraging increase in numbers of men attending the clinic.

‘‘We know men, young men, can be reluctant to come to health services and are difficult to reach,’’ she said.

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