November 2020 
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 Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Policy eBulletin
Supporting those working for high quality sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services 


24 November 2020 (Issue 62)

Welcome to the November issue of the Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Policy eBulletin.  Later this week the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is expected to set out the Government’s spending plans for 2021-2022.  Leading sexual and reproductive health and HIV organisations, including BASHH, BHIVA and FSRH, have joined with over 50 other health sector bodies to make a representation on public health funding to the Treasury ahead of the one-year Spending Review announcements scheduled for 25 November. The joint representation makes a strong case for an increased, sustainable funding settlement for public health to aid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and deliver vital functions and services to reduce widening health inequalities and prevent further ill-health.  Health inequalities amplified by COVID-19 have also led to the recent creation of the Inequalities in Health Alliance, a coalition of over 80 organisations, calling on the Prime Minister to develop a cross-government strategy to reduce unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population and between different groups within society. See more on both below.

Other items to look out for in the round-up this month include: a Community Statement from THT, NAT and over 40 other organisations calling for urgent action to ensure equal access to the HIV prevention drug PrEP; a new campaign from HIV Prevention England to improve awareness of PrEP in Black African communities; annual data from PHE data showing new HIV diagnoses have fallen by 10% in the last year and 34% in the last five years;  a NATSAL research briefing on responding to sexual health risk among people with new partners in midlife and findings from a BPAS mystery shop exercise of pharmacy access to emergency contraception during the pandemic.
********Coming soon***********
The HIV Commission’s final report and recommendations on how England will end new cases of HIV will be launched on World AIDS Day, Tuesday 1 December 2020. You can sign up for the Zoom launch here and get a copy of the full report from the HIV Commission website from 1 December.
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Lisa Hallgarten is Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Brook, the UK’s leading sexual health and wellbeing charity for young people.  In this month’s eFeature, Lisa discusses a new Brook/Open University report looking at how local authorities are supporting good Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools and making links with sexual health services. She says LAs recognise that RSE is a key component of improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for young people and many are doing their bit.  But the picture is mixed, with even well supported schools suffering from a lack of time and money to deliver a consistent curriculum to young people. With mandatory RSE now in place, she says it is essential that LAs and schools are properly resourced so they can work together to ensure young people have good sexual health knowledge and skills as well as easy access to a range of sexual health services that meet their needs.
>Read eFeature by Lisa Hallgarten 

Policy development and guidance

Joint representation on local public health funding to HM Treasury

Leading sexual and reproductive health and HIV organisations – including the British Association of Sexual Health & HIV (BASSH), British HIV Association (BHIVA), Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), National Aids Trust (NAT), Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and Brook –  have joined forces with over 50 other health sector bodies to make a representation on local public health funding to the Treasury ahead of the planned one-year Spending Review in November 2020.  The joint representation urges the Government to place public health, prevention and health creation at the heart of policy and to deliver an increased, sustainable, long term funding settlement for local public health in England.
Read Joint representation
See additional FSRH and FPH representation

Equitable access to PrEP Community Statement 

THT, NAT, PrEPster and 47 other HIV, health and equality organisations have called for urgent action to ensure to ensure that all who can benefit from the HIV prevention drug PrEP are aware of it and can access it. The statement says that PrEP can be an important HIV prevention tool for many people at risk of HIV including gay and bisexual men, women, Black African and other ethnic minority communities, and trans people. Yet these communities are currently not equally benefiting from it. The statement comes after confirmation in September of the release of funding to local authorities to start the roll out of PrEP in England.
See full statement

Inequalities in Health Alliance

Key sexual and reproductive health bodies, including FSRH, BASHH and BHIVA, have joined the Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA) recently convened by the Royal College of Physicians. The IHA is a coalition of nearly 80 organisations calling on the Prime Minister to develop a cross-government strategy to reduce unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population and between different groups within society. COVID-19 has exposed and amplified inequalities in society and tackling the cause of this is more urgent now than ever. Membership is open to any not-for-profit organisation that has an interest in reducing health inequality, particularly those working in the areas of health, social care and local government.
See RCP press release
Get more information about IHA and its members
See FSRH news release

Hands Up for Our Health campaign 

Doctors of the World UK, Faculty of Public Health and Lancet Migration have launched the Hands Up for Our Health campaign to call for the suspension of NHS charging regulations and for universal and equitable access to NHS services during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Royal College of Midwives, FSRH and NAT are among the organisations who are supporting the campaign.
See press release
Get more information about the campaign and how you can support it

New materials to support RSE curriculum in schools 

The Department for Education has published new support materials to provide schools with further guidance on planning their statutory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum. Current government advice is that schools should aim to start preparations to deliver the new RSHE curriculum as soon as possible and start teaching the new content at latest by the start of the summer term 2021.
See DfE curriculum guidance


Abortion Clinics: Buffer Zones update 

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, has confirmed that the Government has recently been engaging with police and abortion providers and is now considering whether more work should be done to protect those accessing or providing abortion services.  In 2018, a government review of protests outside of clinics acknowledged the adverse effects on women attending services but concluded that national buffer zones would not be a proportionate response. Parliamentarians and charities have continued to keep pressure on the Government to review this decision.
See Hansard statement from Home Secretary

Abortion in Northern Ireland: meeting of the APPG on Sexual and Reproductive Health

The next meeting of the APPG SRH will focus on the continued lack of commissioning for abortion services in Northern Ireland. The meeting will be chaired by Dame Diana Johnson MP with insights from a panel of experts including Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Dr Carolyn Bailie, Consultant Obstetrician and Chair of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Northern Ireland Committee. The meeting will take place via Zoom on Monday 14 December at 3pm. 
Register to attend the event

Ensuring access to contraception in pharmacies

The Co-Chair of the APPG SRH, Dame Diana Johnson MP, has recently written to the management of Lloyds Pharmacy to express concerns over reports of a woman being denied emergency oral contraception on religious grounds at a pharmacy in South London. She has asked Lloyds to outline measures they are planning to take to ensure no woman encounters these obstacles in their pharmacies again.  Also see the item on Emergency Contraception in pharmacies in reports section below.
View the letter
See related media report

COVID-19 and HIV Report 

The APPG on HIV and AIDS has published its inquiry report on COVID-19 and HIV.   The report looks at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent government actions on people living with HIV and on HIV treatment and prevention. It recommends that the UK Government ensures global health funding is sufficient to ensure global access to treatment and actively engages with communities in the UK at higher risk from the impacts of COVID-19 and HIV.
Read full report
See NAT press release

Service standards & guidelines 

The response to COVID-19 is evolving and guidance from key professional organisations may change as new information becomes available.  Below are links to regularly updated COVID-19 guidance and resources. 

New FSRH guidance on SRH service provision during a second COVID-19 wave and beyond

This latest FSRH guidance is aimed at healthcare professionals and commissioners across the UK. It outlines essential services that must remain available to women during and past the pandemic as well as recommendations on delivering services and prioritising patients.
See FSRH news item and download guidance

Provision of contraception during the COVID-19 pandemic

FSRH has recently updated its overview statement and recommended approach to the provision of effective contraception during the COVID-19 outbreak.  FSRH considers that at all times during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, provision of effective contraception including LARC, management of LARC complications, emergency contraception and abortion care remains essential.
Download update statement/guidance

FSRH Revised Service Standards for workload in SRH services

These revised service standards from FSRH outline how service providers can manage their workload and continue to provide safe, equitable services during and beyond the pandemic. These revised standards include considerations for online and remote consultations in addition to face-to-face consultations and includes updated references and links to relevant standards.
Download revised standards

COVID-19 antibody testing to be offered to people living with HIV

Earlier this month, leading HIV sector professional bodies and charities challenged a decision by the the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC) to exclude people with HIV from online coronavirus antibody testing. The DHSC has subsequently agreed that there is no clinical reason for this exclusion and people living with HIV, and others living with an immunosuppressive condition, will now be able to access the antibody test through GOV.UK. Sector organisations welcomed the DHSC's engagement and swift action on this matter.
See BHIVA statement

BHIVA ‘2nd COVID peak’ guidance for HIV clinics

BHIVA has provided an update for on guidance for HIV clinics as NHS organisations reinstate plans to manage the epidemic because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
See update

BHIVA/BASHH/BIA Adult HIV Testing Guidelines 2020

The new BHIVA/BASHH/BIA adult HIV testing guidelines have recently been published and are available to download from the BHIVA website.
Download new HIV testing guidelines

Guideline on Behaviour change: digital and mobile health interventions 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a guideline covering interventions that use a digital or mobile platform to help people eat more healthily, become more active, stop smoking, reduce their alcohol intake or practise safer sex. The interventions include those delivered by text message, apps, wearable devices or the internet. The guideline only includes those that are delivered by the technology itself and not by healthcare professionals using technology to deliver interventions.
Access full guideline (NG 183)

Quality standard on heavy menstrual bleeding 

NICE has updated a quality standard on heavy menstrual bleeding. The updated standard covers assessing and managing heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), including suspected or confirmed fibroids and adenomyosis. It describes high-quality care in priority areas for improvement, as well as treatment options. It advises commissioners to commission the full range of treatment options available.
See updated standard (QS47)

Updated version of e-Learning for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (eSRH)

FSRH has launched an updated version of e-Learning for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (eSRH) to support its redesigned FSRH Diploma and Letters of Competence. eSRH is an online programme developed in partnership with Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH). It supports a range of healthcare professionals, including GPs, nurses, midwives and pharmacists and is free to access for anyone with a address at the e-Learning for healthcare website.
See FSRH news
Access e-Learning for healthcare website

Evidence, data & research 

Trends in HIV testing, new diagnoses and people receiving HIV-related care in the United Kingdom: data to the end of December 2019

Public Health England (PHE) has published its latest HIV data showing 4,139 new HIV diagnoses in 2019, a drop of 10% from last year and a fall of 34% in the last five years. PHE and other sector organisations welcomed the data but emphasised that further progress can only be achieved if inequalities in reducing HIV transmission that exist around sexuality, ethnicity and geography are also addressed. Frequent HIV testing, the offer of PrEP among those most at risk of HIV, together with prompt treatment among those diagnosed, remain key to ending HIV transmission by 2030.
See PHE press release
See trends report
Read THT response
Read NAT response

National HIV self-sampling service: Nov 2018 to Oct 2019 

This report from PHE demonstrates that the national sampling service is a cost-effective and successful way of reaching communities most at risk of HIV and those who are not accessing testing in other settings. NAT has called for the Government and local authorities to ensure everyone across the country has access to online home HIV testing all year round.
Read report
Read NAT response

An Evaluation of HIV Self Test Scotland

HIV Scotland and Waverley Care have published an evaluation report which demonstrates a high demand for the HIV self-testing option across all areas in Scotland. The report also shows that the free provision of HIV self-testing plays an important role in overcoming barriers to frequent HIV testing, and that online ordering for postal delivery is a feasible and acceptable means for users. The report calls for the service to be expanded with increased investment to ensure Scotland can meet zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.
Read full report

Navigating STI risk with new partners in midlife: research insights 

This briefing from The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) offers important insights into gauging and responding to sexual health risk among people having sex with new partners at midlife.
Read briefing

Cost effectiveness analysis: evaluating digital health products

PHE has published guidance on how to use cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) to evaluate digital health products.  The guidance is part of a broader collection of resources looking at evaluation of digital health products.
See CEA guide

Reports & other resources

Transforming Sexual and Reproductive Health for BAME Communities in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham

This report from Love Sex Life LSL Partnership makes a series of recommendations to improve the sexual and reproductive health outcomes of the various BAME communities within the London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. It explores three core themes: the need for safe spaces; how stigma and education are key factors in current sexual health inequalities; and the need for culturally specific services and SRH education. 
See full report
Read news report in Voice Online

Emergency contraception, coronavirus, and confidentiality: a mystery shop of pharmacy access during the pandemic

A mystery shop exercise of pharmacies conducted by British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has found that one third of pharmacies are unable to provide emergency contraception in a confidential and COVID-secure way due to current licensing restrictions. BPAS are concerned that women may be deterred from accessing EHC when needed if pharmacists are unable to provide a private, COVID-secure, consultation. The charity is calling for emergency contraception to be reclassified to enable women to purchase this safe and effective medication directly from the shelf, without placing their health or confidentiality at risk during the pandemic.
See BPAS press release
Read Mystery Shop report

Guide to menopause 

A new menopause guide has been produced by the Sexual Health Company, FPA. The guide has information about common symptoms, available treatment and how to get help and support. The guide is for use in general practices and clinical, educational and sexual settings.
See new guide

A guide to menopause for women living with HIV

This resource from the Sophia Forum has been co-developed by women living with HIV who contributed questions about the menopause that were answered by an HIV clinician and menopause specialist.  The guide will support health care clinicians and patients to have informed conversations around their menopause.
See guide

Tackling social isolation among older people living with HIV 

This briefing from HIV Scotland examines the role social networks and support play in lessening the effects of loneliness and social isolation. It is part of the Living Well: 50+ project which aims to deliver pioneering and forward-thinking solutions to the challenges people living with HIV experience as they age. 
Read briefing

Campaigns & other news 

PrEP Protects campaign 

HIV Prevention England have launched a new phase of the It Starts With Me campaign to improve awareness of PrEP in Black African communities. Black African men and women continue to be over-represented in the rates of new HIV diagnoses every year, but do not have the same levels of knowledge and awareness of PrEP compared to other groups affected by HIV.  The campaign started in October and a series of radio interviews, live video sessions on social media, and targeted TV chat-show segments will seek to encourage Black Africans to have more in-depth conversations on PrEP with community educators and clinical experts.
See campaign press release
Download campaign briefing
Download social media resource pack

European Testing Week 2020

Now in its eighth year, the European Testing Week initiative will hold its November European Testing Week from 20 - 27 November 2020. Due to COVID-19 England’s own National HIV Testing Week has been postponed to 1-7 February 2021.
Get more information on ETW

2020 World AIDS Day 

World AIDS Day is on Tuesday 1 December 2020.  Click the link below to find out more about NAT’s Rock the Ribbon campaign and to access posters and images to use for social media.  
Access WAD website

Long Time No Syphilis campaign

The number of people diagnosed with syphilis has more than doubled since 2012.  This campaign supported by PrEPster, The Love Tank, Yorkshire Mesmac and HIV Scotland, seeks to raise awareness about syphilis and how to prevent and treat it.
See campaign website
Access campaign materials and briefing

Third Series of aidsmapCHAT

The third series of aidsmapCHAT kicked off on 5 November, bringing live discussions of news and updates on COVID-19 from around the world for people living with HIV.
Watch latest episode of series 3

aidsmapWOMEN: Taking care of your health – COVID-19 special

This is the second broadcast of NAM aidsmap’s three-part series for women living with HIV. Susan Cole talks to her guests about the issues women with HIV are experiencing regarding their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Listen to broadcast

HIV information in 23 languages

NAM aidsmap has recently published a new Languages section on These pages offer HIV information in 23 different languages, enabling as many people as possible to have access to accurate information about HIV. If you or your organisation have translated an aidsmap page, let NAM aidsmap know and they’ll share it more widely.
Get more information
Visit the Languages pages

September edition of EUROBulletin

The latest edition of the Sexual Health & HIV Policy EUROBulletin is now available. It includes a round-up of policy news from the region as well as an interview with an interview with Professor Richard Harding on the development of a patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) for use in HIV care.
Access September edition

Read full eFeature interview

News from HIV Glasgow 2020

The 2020 International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection (HIV Glasgow) took place virtually in October. NAM aidsmap was official scientific news reporter for the conference and published news online and sent out a news summary bulletin in six languages. 
See Conference bulletin

Marie Stopes UK announce new name 

Sexual and reproductive health provider Marie Stopes has announced that it has changed its name to MSI Reproductive Choices.  The new name breaks its historical connection with the family planning pioneer Marie Stopes and places choice right at its centre.

See press statement

HPV Action closes after successful campaign 

HPV Action UK ceased operations on 30 September 2020 after a successful five-year campaign for HPV vaccination for boys as well as girls. The work will now continue in Europe lead by the European Cancer Organisation, which aims to eliminate HPV-caused cancers and other diseases from the region.  Peter Baker, former campaign director at HPV Action UK, reflects on its successful campaign for gender-neutral HPV vaccination in an article in the British Dental Journal.
See statement on HPV Action website
Read Peter Baker article in BDJ

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 (Since 2017)
> eFeature archive (MEDFASH/FSRH)

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FSRH and coalition partners do not accept responsibility for the content of linked websites/items included in this eBulletin and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.
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