The government is to make free condoms available to all students at third-level institutions from September.
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has confirmed that condom dispensers will be installed on college campuses across Ireland.
Harris stated: “It is crucial we work to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies, increase awareness about sexually transmitted infections and improve sexual health.”
He outlined that “the first phase of the service will see a dispenser service being implemented across third-level colleges and university access points in quarter four of 2019”.
This decision follows advice given by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment that the government should increase access to free contraception.
Last year, the National Condom Distribution Service gave out 409,319 free condoms and 287,565 lubricant sachets.
Many students’ unions across the country, including Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), already offer free condoms to students.
The announcement of free condoms for students was made alongside a number of initiatives on sexual health from the department, which also included a plan to introduce a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programme later this year.
PrEP is a medication taken by HIV negative people to reduce the risk of contracting the virus after having sex without a condom.
PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV from sex by more than 90%. The medication is currently available with a prescription and costs around €100 for one month’s supply.
Harris said that €500,000 had been allocated “to join the Fast Track Cities Initiative and increase community HIV testing”.
The government will also carry out a nationwide survey next year to gage peoples’ attitudes to sexual health and crisis pregnancy in Ireland.
Earlier this year, the Dáil passed a motion to provide free sanitary products in all universities and other public buildings, such as schools, direct provision centers, and Garda stations in an attempt to tackle “period poverty”.