The Health Protection Agency (HPA), an organisation protecting the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards, has welcomed the new publication ‘Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England’ released by the Department of Health.
The publication sets out a range of ambitions including driving earlier diagnosis of STIs and HIV, ensuring rapid access to integrated services and effective treatments, and helping people to make informed choices about their sexual health.
There will be many opportunities for partnership and innovation to achieve these important goals, including the new HIV home sampling scheme piloted by HPA and Terrence Higgins Trust having received over 2,200 requests for kits in six weeks.
Anna Soubry, Public Health Minister, said:
“Despite some improvements, sexual health in England could be a lot better. We need to work together to see a more open and honest culture around sex and relationships. We want to encourage a culture which enables people to make informed decisions free from stigma, coercion and abuse. Sexual health can be a hidden problem, unspoken about among families and friends, and we need to work hard to change that.
“To cut rates of STIs, and to increase access to contraception and thereby reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, we need a concerted effort from everyone, but especially local councils who will start commissioning services from April 1. With the launch of Public Health England, there is a real opportunity for local councils to make renewed efforts to improve the sexual health of their communities.”
Commenting, Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:
“This framework throws a welcome spotlight on sexual health as a public health priority. However, this is only the starting point. We need to see a strengthening of high impact HIV prevention work for those most at risk, an expansion in accessible sexual health services delivered in the community, and we seriously need to bring sex and relationships education into the 21st century. Without this kind of sustained investment, and real innovation, sexual ill health will become a serious burden for generations to come.
“We know this won’t be easy. Despite London having the highest level of HIV in the UK, last week more than half of the funding for city-wide HIV prevention work was cut, and in other cities we’ve seen cuts of up to 10%. None of us – the Government, local authorities, or any one of us – can afford to take our foot off the pedal now.”
THT’s vision for HIV prevention in the UK can be found in Tackling the Spread of HIV in the UK, the charity’s strategy to reduce rising infections and tackle £1bn in public health costs.
To read the full publication, CLICK HERE: