Illnesses and long-term conditions

Sexual health and blood-borne viruses

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. Blood borne viruses (BBVs) are viruses that can be carried in the blood and can spread from one person to another through blood and some other body fluids. The main BBVs of concern in Scotland are hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.

We published our sexual health and blood born virus framework 2011-2015 in 2011 which set out five high level outcomes. The Framework brought together policy on sexual health and wellbeing, HIV and viral hepatitis for the first time. It aimed to strengthen and improve the way in which the NHS, the third sector and local authorities supported and worked with individuals at risk of poor sexual health or blood borne viruses.

We provided an update on progress made since the original framework document in September 2015 which provided the areas of focus for 2015 to 2020.

We continue to implement the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework. This includes work to:

  • deliver on our commitment to eliminate Hepatitis C as a public health concern
  • reduce transmission of HIV, including funding for Waverley Care and HIV Scotland
  • support research on reducing HIV transmission, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Hepatitis C

Viral hepatitis is a disease which causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to serious illness and death if left untreated. Hepatitis C can be cured with a short course of pills which have minimal side effects. 

In Scotland there were an estimated 21,000 people living with hepatitis C in 2018. In July 2019, the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing announced the Scottish Government’s commitment to effectively eliminate hepatitis C in Scotland by 2024. This will be achieved by treating at least 2,500 people in 2019/2020 and at least 3,000 people from 2020/2021.

In July 2018, we published an independent clinical review report on the impacts of hepatitis C. This assessed evidence about the effect of hepatitis C on the health and wellbeing of individuals who were infected through NHS blood transfusion or blood products.

We have provided more information on infected blood on a separate page.


HIV is a long term health condition which is now very easy to manage. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The virus targets the immune system and if untreated, weakens your ability to fight infections and disease.

Nowadays, HIV treatment can stop the virus spreading and, if used early enough, can reverse damage to the immune system.

More information

Advice on sexual health is available on the Sexual Health Scotland website.  

More information and advice on Hepatitis is on the Hepatitis Scotland website.  

Information about HIV is on the HIV Scotland website.


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