Health minister Caroline Flint said the government had spent £4 million on the sexual health campaign, which uses television, online, print and radio advertisements to encourage condom use among 18- to 24-year-olds.
Ms Flint defended the smaller budget saying that such campaigns were not always about money, although she added that the new campaign was twice as expensive as the previous ‘sex lottery’ campaign. The DoH was more concerned about putting an effective message across to the public, she said.
But North London GP Dr Richard Ma, a member of the National Chlamydia Screening steering group, called on the DoH to invest more in undersupported areas such as ‘social marketing’ of condom use.
Dr Ma also said sexual health campaigns needed to look more broadly at other methods of contraception. ‘If you are looking to reduce unwanted pregnancies, rather than STIs, then we need to encourage other forms of contraception like the Pill,’ he said.
Simon Blake, chief executive of the sexual health charity Brook, said that it was vital to back up the campaign with investment in sexual health services for younger people.
He added that the current financial pressures on the NHS mean that much of the money earmarked for sexual health was not reaching the services.