Friday, 23 November 2007

Helping turn the tide on STI rise amongst young people

Today the Health Protection Agency confirmed again that rates of sexually transmitted infection are still rising amongst young people. In all my conversations today i have reminded people that if we encourage more people to test, we will find out about more infections that were previously undiagnosed. Doubtless for a small minority this will be confirmation of the sexual immorality amongst the young. I do not agree - I think it is confirmation that we are not doing enough to support young people to make good decisions and choices that enable them to protect their physical and emotional health. As a country we have a collective responsibility to;

Work to change our unhelpful culture where sex is viewed negatively and sexually active young people are seen as out of control. We need to help young people feel confident about relationships and sex, and equip them with the skills to make good decisions so they can enjoy and take responsibility for their sexual health

Ensure sexual health services do not see continued disinvestment in ongoing efforts to balance the books. If this continues, we will see the consequences in increased teenage pregnancy and STI rates in a very short time

Commit to make Personal, Social and Health Education statutory in schools so every child learns about sex, relationships and sexuality wherever they live.
Currently too many receive little if any good sex education.

Invest in innovative community outreach programmes that reach out to the most vulnerable, building bridges between them and services and helping them take control of their sexual lives.

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