Sexual and reproductive health

Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is not just about preventing disease or infection. It also means promoting good sexual health in a wider context, and across the life course, including relationships, sexuality, and sexual rights. SRH also covers health promotion, and the provision of information, advice and support covering Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), contraception, relationships, and avoiding unwanted pregnancy. There are significant inequalities when it comes to SRH, with poorer health outcomes disproportionately affecting those in lower socioeconomic groups and living in more deprived areas, as well as those from ethnic minority groups.

Local authorities have a duty to commission sexual health services to meet the needs of the local population, including open-access sexual health services that offer free STI testing and treatment, notifying sexual partners of an infected partner, and free provision of contraception. In addition to sexual health clinics, other locally commissioned services include enhanced sexual health services in primary care and pharmacies, as well as targeted condom distribution, support for people at risk of, affected by, and living with, HIV, support for sex workers, as well as outreach and education for young people. There are also other services available to local populations to support their SRH, which are commissioned by the local CCG and NHS.

Young adults aged 16 to 24 are viewed as having greater sexual health needs compared with the general public, and they are one of the groups where some of the highest burden of STIs and STI reinfections continue to be seen. Other groups that have specific needs with regard to their SRH include commercial Sex Workers, and individuals with a substance misuse issue, who may engage in riskier practices.