Frosty reception for Leeds condom giveaway

Cones and condoms don't mix, according to a Leeds city centre ice cream seller.

Johnny Marrocco, who has had his pitch in Briggate for more than a decade, said the NHS Leeds Sexual Health team's "Sex in the City" marquee offering chlamydia testing and glow in the dark condoms was inappropriately sited next to his ice cream van.

The campaign marquee was in Briggate last Saturday to urge young people aged 15-24 to take-up the free testing to ensure they have not contracted disease which can result in female infertility.

Mr Marrocco claimed that parents wanting to buy their young children ice creams were put off by having to run the gauntlet of people lining-up to give urine samples and collect free glow-in-the-dark condoms, glowsticks and other merchandise between 10am and 4pm.

He said: "It would have been much better to have located the tent in Millennium Square near to the ice rink and the Leeds Infirmary later in the day when young people were going out for an evening. "A lot of people did not want to walk past the tent with their children."

A spokeswoman for NHS Leeds defended the site.

She said: "More than 260 young people took a chlamydia test at our sexual health event and many more came for advice and information on sexual relationships and safe sex.

"The sexual health stall is a really important way for us to make sexual health services accessible to people of all ages.

"We chose the time and location carefully to ensure that we could reach as many people as possible with messages about safe sex. The event has been held at the Briggate site on a couple of occasions now and we've had really positive feedback from the people using our stall."

Sheila McNerney, of the chlamydia screening programme, said: "Our glow-in-the-dark condoms are a fun way to promote the serious message that many sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, don't always have visible signs or symptoms.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: "We have not received any other complaints about this marquee.

"However we will note Mr Marrocco's concerns when planning any future public health events."

She added: "We aim to support access to NHS services and information at all times and this is the third year that the sexual health information marquee – part of a national public campaign – has been held on Briggate.

"Briggate has always been the chosen site because its busy, city centre location attracts a high number of people from a range of ages and backgrounds and the NHS naturally wants to reach as many people as possible.

"It is also difficult to find another city centre location which would accommodate the size of the marquee which needs a large space to ensure that it is completely contained and discreet. The NHS trailer was completely contained."

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