NAT welcomes new Northern Ireland Sexual Health Promotion Strategy
On 1 December, World AIDS Day, the first ever Sexual Health Promotion Strategy and Action Plan for Northern Ireland was published. This Strategy document is long overdue as in recent years there have been increasing numbers of sexually transmitted infections and high levels of teenage pregnancy in Northern Ireland.
2007 saw the highest ever number of new HIV diagnoses in Northern Ireland (65) and the trend to date in 2008 suggests a continuing increase.
The Strategy includes important commitments to respecting people, to sexual health public information campaigns, to appropriate training of healthcare staff, and identifies the problems of harassment, discrimination and homophobia. There are also welcome targets such as a 48 hour access target for sexual health clinics.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, said:
‘We warmly welcome the publication of Northern Ireland’s first ever Sexual Health Promotion Strategy. This provides an important foundation on which to build for the future.
The Strategy identifies the particular sexual health needs of gay and bisexual men as a priority issue. HIV disproportionately affects gay men and some minority ethnic communities in Northern Ireland. We hope in coming years Northern Ireland health services and government departments will have the courage to go beyond the modest commitments of the Strategy and unashamedly promote the health interests and human rights of gay men and migrant communities.’
Pat Knowles, Senior Social Worker at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, commented:
“I am pleased Northern Ireland had now published a strategy for Sexual Health.
This is a starting point to work from and I hope it will lead to increased funding for sexual health services in Northern Ireland, in particular in GU clinics which are currently chronically under-funded”
In October NAT published the report HIV… All Grown Up? which set out a clear agenda for action including a sexual health strategy for Northern Ireland that adequately addressed HIV.
Notes to the editor:
1- The Sexual Health Promotion Strategy and Action Plan, 2008 – 2013 is available at:
2- The report HIV and STI Surveillance in Northern Ireland: 2008 published by the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre Northern Ireland is available at: http://www.cdscni.org.uk/publications/AnnualReports/pdf/HIVSTIinNorthern...
3 – The report HIV…All Grown Up? is available at:
http://nat.hugoandcat.com/Media library/Files/PDF documents/HIV-All grown up.pdf
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