Sex education ‘should be compulsory’

Sex education must become compulsory in schools, a government-backed report will say.

The Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV are calling for young school children to be given guidance on sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and shown different contraceptive methods.

The report also warns the government’s long-term sexual health strategy is in danger of failing.

The Department of Health (DoH) review found HIV and sexually-transmitted infection rates were increasing, while demand for abortions was up.

It’s authors are calling on the government to improve professional and public knowledge of the most effective methods of preventing pregnancy.

They describe the scale and nature of sexual ill-health and inequalities in England as a “grave concern”.

Jointly written by the Medical Foundation for Aids and Sexual Health and the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health, the review wants access to abortions improved, higher investment in local prevention programmes and improved testing for HIV and other STIs.

Baroness Joyce Gould, chair of the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV and one of the review’s authors, said: “Since the National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV was published seven years ago, we have seen considerable action and funding from the Department of “Health to improve services.

“However, the NHS is a very different place with a very different structure to what it was in 2001.”

Baroness Gould explained the “empowering” effect of devolving NHS decisions to a local level had contributed to a “patchy” provision of sexual health services.

“We must have leadership and commitment to sexual health at a local level,” she explained.

“If this doesn’t happen, we are in danger of slipping back into the dark days when
GUM [sexual health] clinics were to be found in portakabins, and sexual health services were an afterthought when decisions were taken around planning service provision.”

The Liberal Democrats echoed concerns about ‘patchwork’ provision.

This report highlights the need for better sex education, and it appears that some GPs are unwilling or unable to cope with these sensitive issues,” said Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Sandra Gidley.

“Patients should be able to receive top quality service for any medical condition, including sexual health problems.

“Doctors are paid for good performance when it comes to diabetes, perhaps a similar approach is required for sexual health.”