Two dollops of news from the Terence Higgins Trust this month.
First the trust has warned of a ‘sexual health crisis’ unless the government and local authorities do everything they can to fully fund sexual health services and make sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing as simple and accessible as possible.
Dr. Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘We’re concerned to see alarming inequalities in the distribution of STIs across the population. Young people, and men who have sex with men, are still bearing the brunt of STIs and poor sexual health, with people under the age of 25 accounting for 65% of all new STI diagnoses last year.
‘Meanwhile men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by STIs accounting for 79% of all syphilis diagnoses, and 55% of all cases of gonorrhoea – both of which have risen sharply. This is increasingly worrying as we are starting to see a strain of gonorrhoea which is resistant to one of the two antibiotics used to treat the infection.
‘We’ve also seen that chlamydia continues to be the most common STI in England, particularly affecting young people. It is therefore concerning to see that testing for chlamydia is on the decline, particularly in community settings.
Which leads us to the THT’s newly published report looking at current experience of teaching on gender, sexuality and relationships in schools.
Shh… No Talking is fascinating, perhaps moreso for those of us old enough that talking about sex ed in schools is reminiscing about a time when teachers had good reason not to be good at it due to laws like section 28 preventing open discussion.
The report argues that sex and relationship education should now be covering safe sex, sex and pleasure, consent, teenage pregnancy, the contraceptive pill, the morning after pill, condoms, STIs and oral sex.
Well, the old clause may be long gone but the news from under-25s is not as good as it surely should be. Whatever they were taught about the physical side of sex, only one in four said they had ever touched on the issue of consent.
Barely one in twenty reported they had been taught about ‘LGBT sex and relationships’ and around one in fifteen learned anything about being transgender.
One in three took away some kind of learning about HIV, and one in nine said they had learned about sex in the context of pleasure as opposed to simple mechanics.
Read the report in full at tinyurl.com/shhnotalking