Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, is to launch a new level two sexual health service in Buckinghamshire, its first in the county. From 1st April, the charity will offer a countywide contraception and sexual health testing service to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV locally.

Funded by NHS Buckinghamshire for three years, the new outreach service will target those within the county who are most at risk of sexual ill health, including vulnerable young people, deprived communities, and gay men. As part of this, Terrence Higgins Trust will launch a network of clinics in community settings, offering local people free and confidential testing for HIV and STIs, and a range of contraception services. As well as free condoms and the contraceptive pill, the charity’s trained nurses will also offer women long acting reversible contraception (LARC), such as injections, implants, and IUD/IUS. The new service will work closely with existing specialist contraceptive and GUM services already available in Buckinghamshire.

In South Central England between 2009 and 2010, new diagnoses of chlamydia increased by 4% and gonorrhoea by 12%. In 2010, there were 319 new HIV diagnoses in the region, bringing the total number of people living with HIV in South Central England to an estimated 4,500, of whom a quarter remained undiagnosed.

Sue Peters, Regional Manager for Terrence Higgins Trust in the Home Counties, said: ‘This new programme of work will make it easier for those most at risk of unplanned pregnancy and sexual ill health in Buckinghamshire to access the support they need to stay healthy. We know many people may feel unsure about attending sexual health clinics. By setting up our clinics in the community, we want to encourage more local people to take that first step to make their sexual health a priority.’

Angie Blackmore, Public Health Principal at NHS Buckinghamshire said ‘We have been working hard with all our partners to reduce teenage conceptions and the number of sexually transmitted infections and we are confident that all the appropriate services are now in place to provide high quality sexual health services to people in Buckinghamshire.’

For further information on the new service, please contact Terrence Higgins Trust on 07717 540966 or email info.sexualhealthbucks@tht.org.uk. Information regarding the range of sexual health services currently delivered across the county can be found at www.sexualhealthbucks.nhs.uk.

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