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Sexual health: policy context

Current policy

In 2011, the Scottish Government brought together Sexual Health, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B policy into The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework (2011-2015). This Framework provided a joined up approach to tackling poor sexual health and blood borne viruses (BBVs) in Scotland. The Framework built on the success of the Hepatitis C Action Plan (Phase II) and Respect and responsibility: Strategy and action plan for improving sexual health as well as further developing the HIV Action Plan in Scotland. An updated framework, covering the 2015-20 period, was published in September 2015. The update does not replace the 2011-2015 framework, instead it outlines the progress made since its publication and highlights areas that require additional focus in 2015-2020 in order to help meet the five outcomes originally identified in 2011. The policies underpinning the 2011 Framework are described separately below.  

The framework's original outcome relating to teenage pregnancy has now been integrated into Scotland's first ever strategy on Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People, published in 2016. It aims to reduce pregnancies in women aged under 18 years and, where it does occur, to provide additional support to young parents, to reduce the cycle of deprivation that can be associated with early pregnancy. The fundamental causes of early pregnancy and the inequalities that result from it are addressed via the strategy's focus on actions targeting wider social and environmental influences. The strategy's outcomes framework and actions are underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Scottish Government's Getting it Right for Every Child approach, and five guiding principles: young people at the heart of actions, applying the social determinants of health model, multi-agency approach and leadership, creating positive opportunities, evidence-informed.

Both the Sexual health and BBV Strategy and the Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People strategy highlight the importance of increasing access to long acting reversible contraception (LARC). The Sexual Health and BBV strategy update cites LARC as one of the reasons for the recent fall in both terminations and live births.

Previous policies that underpin current activities

The Hepatitis C Action Plan (Phase II) (475kb) was designed to improve all services applicable to the prevention of, and design and care of persons with, hepatitis C.

Respect and responsibility: Strategy and action plan for improving sexual health was published by the Scottish Government in 2005. This strategy focused on self-respect, respect for others and building strong relationships and a range of actions were set out to enhance sexual health promotion, education, and service provision. NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (NHS QIS) was tasked with taking forward the development of clinical standards in relation to sexual health services provided by or secured by NHS Scotland. The NHS QIS Sexual Health Services Standards were subsequently published in April 2008.

A second phase of this strategy, Respect and Responsibility: Delivering Improvements in Sexual Health Outcomes 2008-2011, was published in 2008 and saw the focus shift towards achieving cultural and behavioural change.   This second phase details actions across four broad themes: knowledge and awareness; leadership, co-ordination and performance management; standards and service provision; and young people.

The importance of improving detection and diagnosis of HIV in non-HIV specialties (including Primary Care) was highlighted in improving the detection and diagnosis of HIV in non-HIV specialties (including Primary Care)  (72KB), published October 2007.

An HIV Action Plan in Scotland, December 2009 to March 2014 was published in November 2009 and aimed to prevent HIV transmission and to provide high quality treatment and care to all those who require it.

NHS Scotland National Sexual Health System (NaSH) is the clinical management system that was developed to support sexual health services throughout Scotland. This is part of the NHS Scotland National eHealth Strategy.

Further information on sexual health policy in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government website.









Page last updated: 12 September 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014