New sexual health strategy to focus on preventing spread of STIs

Six priorities including tackling the high rate of sexually transmitted infections in Blackpool have been agreed as part of an updated Sexual Health Strategy for the town.
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Health chiefs also want to ensure there are no taboos around seeking help and support, especially among young people.

A meeting of the Blackpool Health and Wellbeing Board heard one of the main aims of the strategy was to ensure all residents could access sexual health services.

Priorities set out in the document are –

Sexual health services are provided at clinics such as Whitegate Drive (picture from Google)Sexual health services are provided at clinics such as Whitegate Drive (picture from Google)
Sexual health services are provided at clinics such as Whitegate Drive (picture from Google)
  • Prevent and reduce sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Reduce unplanned pregnancy
  • Improve testing, treatment and support for people living with HIV
  • Provide young people with sexual health support
  • Reduce inequalities
  • Tackle sexual violence
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Brigit Chesworth, of Blackpool Council’s public health team, said there was currently a good testing programme in place for sexually transmitted infections “but a high rate and gonorrhoea is a particular concern”.

She also told the meeting while there is currently a high precedence of HIV in Blackpool, there was a “very good” testing regime meaning people were being diagnosed earlier.

Ms Chesworth said fresh ways of providing sexual health services were being considered as part of a new action plan being developed.

This could include offering STI testing as part of drug misuse services and working more closely with foster carers to reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies among children living in council care.

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Other potential actions include increasing awareness of HIV testing and wider availability including at GP surgeries.

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Access to sexual health services for people with complex needs such as learning difficulties should also be improved, while the Green Dot campaign will be more integrated into society as part of tackling sexual violence.

Launched in Blackpool in March this year, the campaign encourages people to intervene if they are concerned about someone else’s safety.

The meeting also heard consultation had been held around the new sexual health strategy, including involving young people in how messaging should be used.

Ms Chesworth added: “The balance is between on the one hand knowing the service is discreet, but at the same time normalising it and making sure it is not something you have to hide.”