Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Promoting sex education and sexual health

Its disappointing to see that the Govt have watered down plans for compulsory sex education in schools via an amendment to a...bill [that] gives faith schools more freedom to tailor teaching to their own beliefs. I agree with a lot of what humanists have said about this eg British Humanist Association Chief Executive Andrew Copson is quoted on the BBC as saying that the amendment effectively gave a licence to faith schools to teach sex and relationships education in ways that were homophobic, gender discriminatory and violated principles of human rights.

Coincidentally, amongst the growing number of requests to general election candidates to sign up to support various campaigns that I'm now receiving was one on sexual health from SHout loud. I agree very strongly with the background and the committments indicated below. We need much more emphasis on problem prevention and on leading healthy lives in our health, education and social systems. Its makes great sense in economic as well as health and wellbeing terms. We need to make health and wellbeing the key indicators of progress in society.


Dear Mr Vowles, We are writing to you because the UK faces a major challenge with poor sexual health. Despite progress in recent years, the UK still has high levels of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and new HIV infections, as well as high levels of unwanted pregnancy and teenage conceptions. Without sustained action and investment, this situation will worsen. That’s why we’d like you to think about how you can play a part in improving the sexual health of your community. Below is a brief policy statement, agreed by the eight leading voluntary sector and professional associations in the sexual health field.

Please take five minutes to read the statement below and show your support for sexual health by replying to info@shoutloud.org.uk . You can also log onto the Political Exchange and comment on the Joint Policy Statement 2010 issue.

You can contact the partnership with any questions or to arrange a local meeting at a time convenient to you by emailing info@shoutloud.org.uk SHout Loud is a collaborative online project designed to support public involvement in sexual health services. The SHout Loud contact address can be used as a quick and easy way to respond to this email, but should you have a request for further information or a meeting, this will be followed up by one of the individual partner organisations listed below.

BASHH, BHIVA, Brook, FSRH, FPA, MedFASH, NAT, THT

ACTING RESPONSIBLY FOR SEXUAL HEALTH

The UK faces a major challenge with poor sexual health. Despite progress in recent years, the UK still has high levels of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and new HIV infections, as well as high levels of unwanted pregnancy and teenage conceptions. Without sustained action and investment, this situation will worsen.

It makes good economic sense to invest in sexual health and HIV services. Every pound spent on contraception prevents more money being spent on abortion services and maternity services; money spent on preventing and promptly treating STIs prevents onward transmissions as well as preventing more serious health conditions developing. Every pound spent preventing HIV infection saves thousands of pounds later in treatment costs.

Good sexual health is important for everyone in the UK and is a major part of general health and wellbeing. To achieve this requires a reduction in unwanted pregnancies, reduced levels of STI & HIV transmission, timely diagnosis and treatment of STIs and HIV, and the promotion of positive and responsible relationships.

Because of this, the leading sexual health & HIV organisations in the UK call on all Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Candidates to commit to this vision by supporting the following:

*ensuring 48 hour access and confidential open access to all sexual health services

*preventing poor sexual health by ensuring high quality local and national sexual health promotion programmes

*ensuring all children and young people get high quality sex and relationships education at school by making this a statutory curriculum subject

*ensuring all women have information about and access to the full range of contraception methods, including long acting contraception

*increasing access to HIV testing especially for those who need it most
*ensuring that all women across the UK, including Northern Ireland, have access to NHS funded abortions

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) is a professional association for UK clinicians that aims to promote, encourage and improve the study and practice of the art and science of diagnosing and treating sexually transmitted diseases including all sexually transmitted infections, HIV and other sexual health problems.

The British HIV Association (BHIVA) supports clinicians who specialise in HIV, acts as an advisory body to those working in the field of HIV and promotes medical education within HIV care.

Brook is a voluntary sector organisation providing sexual health services and advice for all young people under 25. Brook's mission is to enable young people to enjoy their sexuality without harm.

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FRSH) of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists sets standards, provides educational events and expert clinical advice, and awards qualifications in recognition of specialist knowledge and skills in the field.

The sexual health charity FPA provides straightforward information, advice and support to all people across the UK on all aspects of sexual health, sex and relationships.

The Medical Foundation for AIDS & Sexual Health (MedFASH) is a charity dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the healthcare of people affected by HIV, sexually transmitted infections and related conditions.

NAT is a charity dedicated to transforming society's response to HIV – providing fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources, and campaigning for change. Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is an HIV and sexual health charity, which provides a wide range of clinical and support services and also campaigns for greater political and public understanding of the personal, social and medical impact of HIV and sexual ill health.

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