July  2019 
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 Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Policy eBulletin
Supporting those working for high quality sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services 


18 July 2019  (Issue 54)

Welcome to the July issue of the Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Policy eBulletin. Yesterday in Parliament, Peers backed moves to bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK by extending abortion access and rights to women in Northern Ireland and legalising same-sex marriage. This comes after a historic vote in the House of Commons on 9 July in which MPs resoundingly passed a cross-party amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Function) Bill to bring regulations to Parliament to liberalise abortion and introduce equal marriage if a new Stormont Executive is not formed by 21 October. Still with Parliament, the Health and Social Care Committee has published its Sexual Health Report calling for sufficient funding at national level to deliver quality services, a new sexual health strategy to provide clear direction and a workforce plan to deliver sexual health services over the next decade.  At Government level, the DHSC has now completed its review of sexual health commissioning and Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock has announced that public health services, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services, will remain the responsibility of local authorities.

Other items to look out for in the round-up this month include: confirmation from PHE that a universal programme for adolescent HPV immunisation will start from September this year; final statutory guidance from DfE on implementing RSE in schools; new annual data from PHE showing a 5% rise in the diagnoses of STIs in England in 2018 and a new national syphilis action plan to strengthen public health measures to reduce transmission; annual statistics on abortion showing a 4 % increase in the number of abortions in 2018 and results of a new YouGov survey commissioned by THT showing that only 19% of people surveyed are aware that people living with HIV and on effective treatment can’t pass the virus on.

The eFeature this month is by Dr Paula Baraitser, a consultant in sexual health at King’s College Hospital and a director of the community interest online sexual health service SH:24.

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In this month’s eFeature, Dr Paula Baraitser looks at how sexual and reproductive health services have led the way in NHS digital innovation. Focusing on the pioneering work of SH:24, a not-for-profit online sexual health service, she shares learning from five years of innovation and service development which has delivered online sexual health testing and  contraception. She highlights the importance of online services being a fully integrated part of the sexual health care system, with service users moving between online services and face-to-face care. Dr Baraitser also argues that future online innovations in this area will require close collaboration between commissioners, providers of online and clinic-based services and researchers who evaluate the innovations.
>Dr Paula Barraitser eFeature 

Policy development and guidance

Review of commissioning of sexual health

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that key public health services will remain the responsibility of local authorities following a review announced in the NHS Long-Term Plan.  The conclusion of the review was given in a statement by Matt Hancock, who also said he hoped there would be improved joint working between councils and the NHS to co-commission sexual and reproductive health services.
View DHSC announcement
See LGA response
See ADPH response
See NAT response

Call for restoring £1 billion of cuts to public health

The King’s Fund and Health Foundation have made a joint call for the Government to make a clear and urgent commitment to restoring £1 billion of real-terms per head cuts to the public health grant. They call on the Government to act urgently to counter cuts to the public health grant to enable local authorities to deliver vital services, including sexual health services. The leading health charities say that the Government cannot continue to put off decisions on funding, particularly given expected further delays to this year’s Spending Review. The call was echoed by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH).
View KF/HF press release
See LGA statement
See ADPH statement

Introduction of a universal programme for adolescent HPV immunisation

Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England/NHS Improvement have confirmed that the existing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme will be expanded into a universal programme from September 2019. The vaccine will be offered to boys, in addition to girls, as part of the routine school aged schedule in England from September 2019.  The introduction of the universal HPV vaccination programme has been widely welcomed by sector organisations. Click the links below to access a HPV Special Edition Newsletter from PHE which includes the latest information and resources for the HPV programme for eligible boys and girls.
View the PHE press release
View the implementation letter
See guidance for health professionals
See HPV special edition newsletter

PrEP Access 

NHS England has confirmed it would support an end to any cap on PrEP recruitment at trial sites, with open-ended additional places where any clinic and local authority would like them. This follows a recent meeting with National AIDS Trust (NAT), Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and Prepster to talk through progress with the trials.  NHS England also reiterated its commitment to working with DHSC and local authorities to ensure a seamless transition from trial to routine commissioning arrangements during 2020/1.
See letter from NHS England
Read NAT press release

Statutory Guidance on RSE

The Department for Education (DfE) has published new statutory guidance about how Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education should be implemented in all schools across England by 2020. From September this year, early-adopter schools will begin teaching the new content to offer insight into the introduction of the guidance ahead of the nationwide roll-out in 2020.
View guidance and relevant information from DfE
See DfE guides for parents
Read DfE press release
See FSRH response

Civic leaders call for more support of LGBT inclusion in schools

The Independent has recently published a letter from a group of over 70 civic and religious leaders urging government to provide more robust support for schools promoting equality and LGBT inclusion. This follows high profile protests directed at some schools in England for teaching about LGBT people, claiming it is religiously or culturally inappropriate for the age of the pupils. The group say the new SRE guidance is ambiguous about LGBT teaching and leaves schools exposed and that government should step up support in this area.
See news release & letter
View recent statement from Nick Gibb

Period Poverty Taskforce

It has been announced that the Government Equalities Office (GEO), Plan International UK and Procter and Gamble will co-Chair a new Taskforce and work together with charities and businesses across a range of sectors to develop a comprehensive and sustainable response to period poverty in the UK. In recent months the government has announced that period products in schools, hospitals and police custody will be free for women and girls. The Taskforce will build on this work, looking at where accessibility is an issue for women and girls, but also seeking to tackle the issue of stigma and education around periods.
See GEO news release


Cross-party amendment on abortion access in Northern Ireland

On 9 July MPs passed cross-party amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Function) Bill to extend abortion care access and rights to women in Northern Ireland. MPs also voted to legalise same-sex marriage.  These historic votes require the Government to bring regulations to Parliament to decriminalise abortion and legalise same-sex marriage if a new Stormont Executive is not formed by 21 October 2019. Yesterday, Peers in the House of Lords backed the abortion changes by 182 votes to 37.  The Bill will now go back to the House of Commons for its final reading. 
View Hansard transcript
See RCOG statement
See RCM statement
Read Stonewall statement
See BBC news report

Sexual Health Report

The Health and Social Care (HSC) Committee has published its inquiry report on sexual health.  The Committee calls for government to ensure sexual health is sufficiently funded at a national level to deliver high quality services and information.  It makes a series of recommendations including the development of a new sexual health strategy to provide clear leadership and a workforce plan to deliver sexual health services across England over the next decade. Key sector organisations have welcomed the report and urge government to take action on the findings and recommendations.
Read HSC news release
Read summary and download full report
See LGA response
See ADPH response
Download BASHH response
See FSRH, RCOG and RCGP response
See NAT response
See THT response

NHS Long-Term Plan: legislative proposals

The HSC Committee has also published its report on potential changes to legislation proposed in the NHS Long-Term Plan. In response to this FSRH and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) are calling for government to mandate the co-commissioning of sexual and reproductive healthcare services which to date have been adversely affected by lack of accountability and joined-up care.
View HSC report
See FSRH and RCOG press statement
View statement from key medical bodies on integrated commissioning of SRH

Government’s review of overseas visitor charging

The HSC Committee has held an oral evidence session with the Minister of State, Stephen Hammond, on the Government’s review of the impact of the NHS Overseas Visitors Charging Regulation. 
Get more information on Parliamentary website

Health and social care and LGBT communities inquiry

The Women and Equalities Committee has held a recent oral evidence session as part of its inquiry into the inequalities faced by LGBT communities when accessing health and social care services.  The focus of the session was on the responsibility NHS bodies have for ensuring inclusive healthcare for LGBT people.  It heard evidence from the Government’s new National LGBT Health Adviser, Dr Michael Brady.
Find out more information from Parliamentary website

Service standards & guidelines 

Service Standards for record keeping in SRH services 

FSRH has recently launched updated quality standards to reflect current evidence and clinical practice on management of patient records in Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH) services, particularly greater use of digital technology.  These standards are applicable to individual healthcare professionals as well as those managing or commissioning services.
Download updated standards

New Advanced Clinical Practitioner (ACP) curriculum for nurses working in sexual health and HIV

FSRH, The British Association for Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH) and National HIV Nurses Association (NHIVNA) have jointly produced a new ACP curriculum for nurses working in integrated sexual and reproductive health and HIV. The curriculum is endorsed by Health Education England (HEE).
Find out more and download the new curriculum

New RCN sexual health and education directory

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and HEE have created an online sexual health directory.  The directory provides an outline of the education and qualifications needed for nursing and midwifery staff working in sexual health and HIV care and the relevant qualifying bodies for these education programmes.
See RCN news release
View new directory

Data, evidence & research 

STIs and chlamydia screening in England: 2018

New annual data from PHE shows a rise of 5% in diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England in 2018 compared to 2017. The increase in the total number of new STIs was due to a large increase in gonorrhoea and more moderate increases in chlamydia, syphilis, and first episode genital herpes diagnoses.  Consultations at sexual health services also increased by 7% during 2018.  Sector organisations have reiterated concerns about the increasing pressures on sexual health services and have called on government to take action.
See PHE press release
Download 2018 report and data tables
See BASHH response
See NAT response
See THT response
See LGA response

Syphilis: PHE Action Plan

PHE has recently published a national syphilis action plan to strengthen public health measures to reduce transmission of syphilis. The actions specified in this plan are aimed at clinicians, public health specialists, specialty societies and commissioners of specialist sexual health services and focus on the key affected populations. 
View Action Plan

Abortion Statistics 2018 

The DHSC has published statistics on abortions recorded in England and Wales in 2018. The total number of abortions has increased by 4% since 2017.  Over the last decade abortion rates have continued to sharply decrease in younger women aged under 18 and increase in women over 35. FSRH has expressed concern that the increase may signal an unmet need for contraception.
Access 2018 statistics and related information
View 2018 report
See FSRH press statement

SRH providers’ opinions on expansion of pharmacy-led contraception provision

A recent study reported on the BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health journal has shown that UK SRH providers are largely supportive of pharmacy-led provision of contraception with training and referral pathways being required to support delivery by pharmacists.  
Read the full study report

BASHH/THT Lay Research Panel

BASHH and THT have set up a lay research panel to act as a resource for those developing proposals and funding bids for STI-focused sexual health research.  The panel is recruited from members of the general public who have received training on the principles of research review. Click the link to find out more about how the research panel works and how to apply to submit a proposal.
Find out more about the panel and how to use it

Natsal online consultation

The research team behind the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) is currently consulting on the content of the Natsal-4 questionnaire. Natsal is one of the largest and most detailed studies of sexual and reproductive behaviour in the world. The data is used extensively to inform policy and practice in this area. The consultation will run until 22 July 2019. Click the link for more information on how to complete the consultation.
Get more information on consultation

Reports & resources

Teaching online safety in schools

This DfE guidance outlines how schools can ensure their pupils understand how to stay safe and behave online as part of forthcoming and existing curriculum requirements.
View guidance

FGM: Guidance for schools

The National FGM Centre has produced new guidance to equip professionals in education settings to respond to concerns regarding girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).  It includes FGM risk indicators and requirements of the new RSE guidance regarding FGM.
Read the guidance

Looped in: new online tool for people living with HIV

NAT has helped create a new online tool to support people living with HIV and to tackle stigma.  Looped in offers people living with HIV in the UK a range of trusted content developed for different audiences – including friends, sexual partners, family – to empower and enable conversations about HIV.
View NAT press release
Access Looped in

The search for an HIV cure 

NAM aidsmap has published a new factsheet on potential strategies towards a cure for HIV.  It includes reported cases of HIV cure and remission and possible risks for participants in cure research trials.
View new factsheet

Campaigns & other news 

LGB women urged to screen for cervical cancer

NHS England has urged lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) women to take up regular cervical screening appointments.  It says many LGB women wrongly believe they are not at risk and reiterates that the virus that causes cervical cancer is passed on through any type of sexual activity.
Read NHS England press release

Sexual Health Week 2019

Brook has announced that it will be running Sexual Health Week 2019, having supported the FPA week over the last ten years.  The week will run between 16-22 September and the theme is ‘relationships, sex and disability’
See tweet from Brook

Can’t Pass it On Campaign

A new YouGov survey commissioned by THT has shown that only 19% of over 2,000 people interviewed are aware that people living with HIV and on effective treatment can’t pass the virus on.  The survey also uncovered significant levels of HIV stigma, with almost a half of those surveyed saying they would feel uncomfortable kissing someone living with HIV.  THT has released new posters as part of the Can’t Pass it On campaign to tackle these out of date beliefs and end the stigma faced by those living with HIV. 
See THT press release
Get more information on the campaign

Resources to support It Starts with Me campaign

HIV Prevention England (HPE) has created a social media pack and launched a new resources portal to support the summer phase of the It Starts with Me campaign.  The new portal features an easy-to-use interface for ordering campaign materials and merchandise. 
See Social Media Pack
Link to Resources Portal


Guideline on Self-Care Interventions for Health

WHO has launched its first guideline on self-care interventions for health.  Some of the interventions include self-sampling for HPV and STIs, HIV self-testing, self-injectable contraceptives and self-management of medical abortion.  Earlier this year the BMJ and BMJ Global Health launched a series of articles on self-care interventions in sexual and reproductive health and rights that aim to add to the evidence base in this area.
See WHO news release
Read Guideline
BMJ articles

Progress report on HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs in 2019

This report from WHO assesses the mid-term progress in 2019 in implementing global health sector strategies in these three key areas.
View report

The Sexual Health & HIV Policy eBulletin was originally developed and published by MEDFASH. 

It continues to be compiled and edited by Helen Christophers on behalf of FSRH and coalition partners. If you have any comments on the eBulletin or eFeature or suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in future eFeatures please get in touch (

You can access previous eBulletins and eFeatures via the links below:
> eBulletin archive (MEDFASH)
> eFeature archive (MEDFASH/FSRH)

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This eBulletin has been produced with financial support from:
The M·A·C AIDS Fund Community Grants Program, M·A·C Cosmetics Inc (UK) 
The M·A·C AIDS Fund does not have editorial input or control over the content of the eBulletin.
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