A new contraceptive and sexual health facility officially opens today at Braid Valley Hospital in Ballymena.
Performing the honours is Health Minister Michelle O’Neill.
The new facility is the first dedicated unit for the entire Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) area.
The minister said: “I am committed to keeping the important public health issue of sexual health and well-being high on our agenda and facilities such as this hub are key in supporting this.
“I hope to see more care service delivery hubs such as this –delivering health promotion, information, screening, treatment and support under one roof, when and where it’s needed.”
“The hub facilitates an enhanced degree of access for patients to both contraception and sexual health services within the same building.
“This will allow an opportunity for a transformational move towards integrated services including clinics with dual trained staff who can deliver one stop shops for contraception and STI screening within one appointment.”
The minister continued: “Looking after your reproductive and sexual health and well-being can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.
“Being confident about sexual health and contraception options can also help in developing self esteem and positive relationships.
“Sexually transmitted infections can have long-term physical effects on people’s lives, so we need to be positive about testing positive.
“Most STIs respond well to treatment and now even those, such as HIV that can’t be cured, can be managed with treatment.
“So, for anyone who is worried they have an STI, it’s vital to get tested. Knowing for sure allows you to start getting the right information, treatment and support and helps you to protect those you care about.”