• Young people in Devon and Torbay are now able to access free condoms, dams and lubricant under a new scheme
  • With STI rates increasing around the UK, new diagnoses have risen by 40% in Devon and 86% in Torbay
  • Condoms have been shown to be an effective way to help young people to improve their sexual health
  • The new service, 'Doink', has been designed in collaboration with young people from the region to promote condom use and enhance sexual health

People under the age of 25 in Devon and Torbay can now access free condoms, dams, and lubricant from ‘Doink’ - an innovative new sexual health service.

‘Doink’ is run by Preventx, the UK’s largest sexual health testing service, and The Eddystone Trust, a local sexual health and HIV charity. The new service aims to boost the wellbeing of young people in the region, including those who are most at risk of poor sexual outcomes.

The service has been designed in collaboration with young people in the region. Insight gathered by Preventx and the Local Authorities in Devon and Torbay, has shown that offering free condoms is an effective way to help young people to improve their sexual health. ‘Doink’ has been designed to meet those needs.

The need for ‘Doink’ is underlined by new analysis of Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) data. An increase in testing following the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed rising STI rates. New infections in Devon climbed from 368 per 100,000 in 2021 to 515 per 100,000 in 2022 (40% increase). In Torbay, new STI diagnoses rose from 359 per 100,000 in 2021 to 668 per 100,000 in 2022 (86% increase). These rising rates can partly be attributed to an increase in chlamydia detection rates amongst those under 25 years old. In Devon these rates have risen by 52% in the last year and in Torbay they have increased by 140%.[i]

Condoms are the most effective way to prevent STIs. Through the ‘Doink’ initiative, they are available in a range or shapes and sizes, helping to ensure they work for everyone who wants to use them.

By offering free access to condoms, dams and lubricant, Local Authority commissioners expect ‘Doink’ to play a crucial role in improving sexual wellbeing and helping to prevent new infections in young people.

Mags Davies​​​​, Chief Executive of The Eddystone Trust said: “It’s important that sexually active young people in Devon and Torbay stay safe. Making condoms easy to access and free from stigma is a great way to do this. We are pleased to be partnering with Preventx to launch ‘Doink’. We hope this scheme will encourage young people to take control of their wellbeing and practice good sexual health.”

The following products are available for free via ‘Doink’:

  • A selection pack (5 different types of external condom, an internal condom, dam and some lubricant)
  • 10 external condoms and lubricant (with a choice of 6 different types)
  • 5 internal condoms and lubricant
  • A pack of 5 dams

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, Director of Public Health, Torbay Council, said: “We are committed to working with young people in Devon and Torbay to offer sexual health services that meet their needs. We know from our work with local groups that innovative, digital services can play an important role in helping young people to access condoms in a way that works for them.

“As well as being effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly, condoms are the only method of contraception that helps protect against STIs. We know they work well for young people, and we expect ‘Doink’ will play a key role in helping improve the wellbeing of young people in Devon and Torbay.”

Young people in Devon and Torbay who wish to access the service can register by visiting the Doink website or downloading the app.  

Young people have the option to order via post or to collect from one of the regions’ collection points. With either option, they are provided with information about condoms, including how to use them. Individuals aged 13, 14 or 15 can use the service following a “check in” with a trained worker to ensure the safety and appropriateness of the service. Preventx are working in partnership with The Eddystone Trust to provide the online service and the coordination of in-person distribution sites.

In an innovative move, the regions’ free Freetest.me chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis testing service will also signpost users to ‘Doink’. Aligning testing with easy access to free condoms is expected to increase condom use and support sexually active people in the region to keep themselves and their partners safe.

Commenting on the launch of the service, Dr Vanessa Apea, NHS sexual health consultant and medical director at Preventx said: “With STIs on the rise, it’s so important that you keep yourself and your partner safe if you are sexually active. Using condoms and having regular testing are the best way to do this. We’re really proud to work with The Eddystone Trust to launch ‘Doink’. We hope this new service will help normalise condom use amongst young people in Devon and Torbay and make it easier than ever to stay safe in 2024 and beyond.”

Preventx is the UK's leading provider of remote diagnostics, partnering with private and public sector organisations to improve access to testing in the UK and beyond. They have provided online STI screening in Devon and Torbay since 2012. Since launching nationally in 2008, the Sheffield-based organisation has carried out 15 million tests, working with the NHS and Local Authorities across more than half of the UK.

For more information about Preventx, please visit their website

HIV Testing Week

It's also HIV Testing Week (5 - 11 February 2024) and Eddystone Trust are encouraging local residents to claim their status by ordering a finger prick test or one of the new oral swab kits which are quick and easy to use.

HIV can affect anyone - regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender or heritage. Testing for HIV puts you in control and, thanks to treatment, will stop you from getting seriously ill, enable you to live a normal lifespan and prevent passing the virus onto others. The week encourages people to have a free, quick and confidential test. 

You can order tests online via the Eddystone website.

There are also a number of community drop in sessions taking place across Devon and Torbay taking place throughout the week where you can get tested for HIV. The next one in Torbay is at Torbay Drugs & Alcohol service, 8 Morgan Ave, Torquay TQ2 5RS on Thursday 8 February.

For a full list of community testing drop ins visit the Eddystone website.

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