Councils the key to sexual health, Government says

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Local councils need to do more to cut sexually transmitted infections and reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies to improve levels of sexual health, the Government has said.

Ambitions outlined in the Government’s sexual health framework include greater efforts to prevent STIs and HIV infection and ensuring rapid and easy access to appropriate services.

Anna Soubry, Public Health Minister, said that despite improvements “sexual health in England could be a lot better.”

From 1 April, local authorities will be allocated a ring-fenced budget for improving the public health of their communities. The Government hopes this change in funding – combined with its framework – will improve local sexual health outcomes.

Although there has been a reduction in the level of teenage pregnancies across England, latest stats show an increase in new HIV infections and that rates of gonorrhoea and syphilis are increasing in some age groups.

The Government’s framework also highlights the need for an increase in the number of people in high-risk groups tested for HIV; the creation of an honest and open culture where people can make educated choices about relationships and sex; and for counselling to be available to women who request an abortion to discuss available options and choices.

“We want to encourage a culture which enables people to make informed decisions free from stigma, coercion and abuse,” said Anna Soubry.

“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.”