Sexual health in Waikato gets international exposure


Sexual health in Hamilton is getting international attention, but this time for all the right reasons.

Itchy Burny Bits, an interactive website designed to raise awareness about sexually transmitted infections created by Pinnacle Midlands Health Network, has been named a finalist in the Global Awards at ceremonies held in Sydney and New York.

Visitors to the website can select a character and navigate through a range of scenarios designed based on the user's real life experience. 

The campaign was developed by Pinnacle Midlands Health Network, The Clinical Director of Sexual Health at Waikato DHB, and Hamilton marketing and design company Pan Media. 

John Macaskill-Smith, CEO at Pinnacle Midlands Health Network says the recognition is further proof that the age of technology has broken down geographical boundaries.

"It is great to have something we designed for young people in New Zealand to be recognised at an international level," he said.

"We launched Itch Burny Bits in December 2013 with Dr Jane Morgan as a way to encourage young people to access information and support about sexual health. It offered visitors a fun and engaging way to anonymously check their risk of contracting and then get where to go for advice and help."

"We want them to get regular checks, 'protecting ya bits' and urge people to inform their sexual partner if they have an STI."

"The website was backed by a significant marketing campaign where we got help from the Edge Road Runners to share custom-wrapped condoms at a number of events across the region, including high profile events such as Rhythm and Vines."

Itchy Burny Bits was one of 152 entrants at the awards and the only entrant from the southern hemisphere to be a finalist.

"Although we are having a bit of a laugh with this campaign, it has a serious message: get checked and be safe!"

"PAN is immensely proud of the achievement," agency director Graeme Blake said. "Being shortlisted alone was a high honour considering our work beat out many international healthcare heavyweights, and goes to show how a great idea can travel beyond boundaries."

Jury members were recruited from more than 20 countries, creating a world-wide collection of industry experts who announced the winners at ceremonies in New York and Sydney.

You can visit the website and check your own bits at www.itchyburnybits.co.nz.


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