Research published today by Terrence Higgins Trust shows overwhelming public support for sexual health and HIV to be made a priority for the NHS. It comes at a times when the UK’s sexual health is at an all-time low with the highest ever rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and with waits of up to six weeks for appointments in Genito Urinary (GU) Clinics for sexual health check-ups. The survey also highlighted a startling lack of awareness about sexually transmitted infections among the public, and young people in particular.
The charity is simultaneously publishing “Blueprint for the Future”, a bold vision for redesigning sexual health services to tackle the sharp rise in demand for, and under-investment in services in recent years. The charity believes that a comprehensive and collaborative overhaul of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services is necessary to make it easier for people to look after their sexual health and bring rates of infections down.
Said Paul Ward, Deputy Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust: “It’s time for a new approach to reverse the parlous state of sexual health in the UK today. Three quarters of the public want the Government to make sexual health and HIV a priority for the NHS, and we’d urge them to listen. Despite the best efforts of front line services, more people with HIV and other STIs are going undiagnosed and untreated than ever before, with disastrous results.”
The charity’s Blueprint outlines a vision for modern sexual health services, which include:
Local and national Co-ordinated programmes of work to prevent STI and HIV infections
New walk-in rapid access community-based STI and HIV testing services
Community-based STI service networks with GU services as the specialist hub
The establishment of a “mixed economy” approach to HIV and STI care, involving GPs, hospital services and charities
A drive for self management to encourage people to take responsibility for their sexual health, by establishing new expert patient programmes
Angela Robinson, President of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) said:
“Terrence Higgins Trust’s report provides an opportunity for all involved in sexual health and HIV care to be innovative in developing new approaches and consolidate practice which has been proven to be effective.
“The challenges for statutory services include working in partnership with the voluntary sector to instigate and evaluate new innovations to provide quality healthcare for the at-risk population.
“Greater priority to prevention of HIV and STI transmission is essential, and this blueprint places it firmly back at the top of the agenda.”