Comment

Why including sexual health education in specialist communities is essential

Simon Dowe and Jason Warriner look at the statistics regarding sexual health education.
Chlamydia

Simon Dowe and Jason Warriner look at the statistics regarding sexual health education.

Talking to a patient about their sexual health may not be a subject that nurses feel comfortable in doing.

Nurses who work in primary care are in a unique position to discuss and promote sexual health awareness due to the nature of their work.

  • At the end of 2014 there were 103,700 people living with HIV in the UK: this number has increased year on year since the 1980s.
  • In 2015, there were approximately 435,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England.

These statistics highlight the need for effective strategies and visions to ensure that services are available and meet the needs of local populations.

In the UK HIV, sexual and reproductive health care services are provided

...

Simon Dowe and Jason Warriner look at the statistics regarding sexual health education.

Talking to a patient about their sexual health may not be a subject that nurses feel comfortable in doing.

Chlamydia
Chlamydia developing. Photo: Science Photo Library

Nurses who work in primary care are in a unique position to discuss and promote sexual health awareness due to the nature of their work.

  • At the end of 2014 there were 103,700 people living with HIV in the UK: this number has increased year on year since the 1980s.
  • In 2015, there were approximately 435,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England.

These statistics highlight the need for effective strategies and visions to ensure that services are available and meet the needs of local populations.

In the UK HIV, sexual and reproductive health care services are provided by the NHS, independent sector and charities highlighting the range of stakeholders who work together to provide services and campaign to ensure sexual health is on the political agenda.

In 2015, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare published ‘Better care, a better future: a new vision for sexual and reproductive health care in the UK.’

The vision recognises good sexual and reproductive health matters to everyone at some point in their lives, enabling people to pursue their ambitions in education, work and with their families.

Oppurtunities of support

For nurses working in primary care there are a range of opportunities to support the delivery of sexual health awareness and information to your patients and the public.

A key consideration is to have a knowledge and understanding of local services and how to refer or sign post people to services. Another consideration is encouraging people to have regular testing for STIs and HIV if they have changed partners or feel that they have put themselves at risk.

The introduction and impact of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme in England has changed the way sexual health services engage with young people. This enabled young people to test for Chlamydia in a variety of community settings and be able to access further information.

This has also assisted in the development of community-based services that work alongside a wide range of professionals such as community pharmacists.

As health and social care provision across the UK continues to change it is expected more services will be transferred to community settings, highlighting the necessity for integrated working and collaboration.

Funding pressures

Sexual health services will face funding pressures, and will be required to change and look at new ways of working to ensure high quality and safe services are provided.

The role of all nurses and healthcare support workers in community settings to promote sexual health will be essential to ensure the needs of patients are met and good sexual health is maintained.

For those of us working in community settings the inclusion of sexual health education is essential alongside access to continuing professional education.


About the authors

Simon DoweSimon Dowe is chief executive at The Sussex Beacon

Jason WarrinerJason Warriner is clinical services director at The Sussex Beacon

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