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A health watchdog has made suggestions for councils, schools and sexual health services to help curb the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that a range of condom distribution schemes be implemented to support those who are at high risk of contracting STIs.

The watchdog has said that schools should put up posters that inform children of the fact that they can get free condoms from staff. It has also said that sex education classes should cover how to use condoms correctly, with demonstrations, to ensure they are protected from STIs and pregnancy.

Another recommendation was for local authorities to put schemes in place that grant at-risk people free condoms to cut the chances of STI transmission. This includes individuals who have multiple partners and engage in casual sex regularly. It has suggested that these free condoms could be distributed through sexual health charities, universities and pharmacies.

On top of this, safe sex should be promoted online, said NICE. It has suggested that targeted advertising on social media and dating sites like Tinder could help to ensure people are thinking about the importance of condoms when engaging in sexual activity.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “Although we are seeing an overall decrease in the total number of STIs being diagnosed, there have been large, disproportionate increases in diagnoses among specific groups, such as in young people aged 16-24 and in men who have sex with men.

“Condoms are the best way to prevent most infections being passed on through sex. If local authorities and other commissioners can work together to improve condom availability and use amongst people at high-risk we could significantly reduce the rates of STIs.”

In 2015, approximately 435,000 STIs were diagnosed in England, with a 76 per cent rise in syphilis and 53 per cent increase in gonorrhea rates between 2012 and 2015.

Condom use is essential when it comes to protecting yourself and any partners from STIs, as well as unwanted pregnancy, so make sure you're always ready for the occasion.