Be close: But stay smart and don’t let liquor and too much sun cloud your judgement.  *iStock photo
Be close: But stay smart and don’t let liquor and too much sun cloud your judgement. *iStock photo

Sexual health nurses are bracing themselves for a spike in people looking for advice after the four-day Cup Match holiday.

Carmelita Pitcher, a public health nurse at Hamilton Health Centre on the city’s Victoria Street, said holiday periods always showed a sharp increase in the numbers of people worried about sexually-transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

She added: “This is one of the biggest – between Cup Match and Christmas, that’s when we usually see our biggest increase.”

Ms Pitcher said a combination of alcohol and a holiday atmosphere meant people were more inclined to let their hair down and take risks.

She added: “People just let loose – alcohol is always a factor. Kids coming back home from school or dealing with visitors come in. They just tend to be more free with the alcohol and their behaviour.”

Ms Pitcher said: “Right now, we’re seeing a lot between the ages of 14 and 19 and 20 to 25 age group. But we have a few over-30s as well. That will be the same for Cup Match.”

She added: “We do pregnancy tests in this clinic as well. There is a walk-in, so there is no appointment needed. We may see a rise in requests for the morning after pill. We generally see an increase in demand for that after holidays as well.”

Ms Pitcher was speaking after Bermuda Health Council CEO Jennifer Attride-Stirling warned that requests for treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases was likely to rise immediately after the holiday.

Partying

Ms Attride-Stirling writes in an article on page 15 of our paper today: “Another interesting trend concerns sexual risks. The number of visits to the Communicable Disease Clinic and the Maternal Health & Family Planning Clinic goes up immediately after a public holiday. 

“This is likely due to increased sexual risk-taking during the holiday partying, followed by sobering realizations the morning after.”

Ms Pitcher said that the safest way to avoid sexual health problems or pregnancy – especially for younger people – was to avoid risk-taking behaviour altogether.

She said: “For the youngsters, abstinence is best. Now is not the time to be experimenting – they should be careful and wait.

“They should also be be careful to stay in groups and not go anywhere they’re not familiar with.”

Ms Pitcher added that the health centre provided free condoms, including female condoms – and urged anyone who may be at risk to visit the centre and pick some up prior to the holiday.

She said: “Please carry condoms – we have them for free at the health department and people can come up to the communicable diseases clinic and get them. We will talk to you, we will teach people how to put them on, because a lot of people don’t know how to put them on properly.”

And she added: “We want people to have a good time, but they should know their limit with alcohol and they should be careful.

“If people think they might end up with someone, carry condoms. We have paper bags, so they can take as many as they want. All they have to do is walk in, ask for some condoms and walk out.”