Sexual health and blood borne virus action plan: 2023 to 2026

This action plan outlines the sexual health and blood borne virus (HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis B) priorities for Scotland for 2023 to 2026.


The first Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework (2011-2015) set out high-level outcomes for delivery across the sector and sought to strengthen the work that was embedded in the NHS, third sector and local authorities to improve outcomes for sexual health and blood borne viruses (BBVs).

The Refreshed Framework in 2015 built on good progress, reflected on achievements and outlined areas of focus for 2015-2020. The first two Frameworks centred on five high level outcomes:

i. Fewer newly acquired blood borne virus and sexually transmitted infections; fewer unintended pregnancies.

ii. A reduction in the health inequalities gap in sexual health and blood borne viruses.

iii. People affected by blood borne viruses lead longer, healthier lives, with a good quality of life.

iv. Sexual relationships are free from coercion and harm.

v. A society where the attitudes of individuals, the public, professionals and the media in Scotland towards sexual health and blood borne viruses are positive, non-stigmatising and supportive.

These outcomes remain the foundations of sexual health and BBV ambitions in Scotland and significant progress has been made towards achieving the indicators that accompanied these outcomes in the Framework documents. This reflects the commitment, hard work and ambition of those who deliver services.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted services across the NHS, and sexual health and BBV services were no exception. The following two years saw a number of specialists redeployed to focus on the pandemic, and the ability to fully deliver services was interrupted in an unprecedented manner.

In order to reflect the challenges that the pandemic presented Reset and Rebuild – sexual health and blood borne virus services: recovery plan was publishedin August 2021. This plan, co-produced with NHS and third sector partners, assessed the impacts of the pandemic on sexual health and BBV services and those who use them, and aimed to support the sector to recover from the immediate impact of the pandemic.

There are still challenges faced by a recovering NHS, a restricted financial climate and increasing needs from users, therefore as we consider the next steps for Sexual Health and BBV policy in Scotland we must focus on the key priorities that will continue the recovery phase, whilst also maintaining our ambitious targets to make Scotland a society where all people are healthy, respected, empowered, and safe.

However, improvements in sexual health and BBV policy are not solely about specialist services. Tackling stigma and improving sexual wellbeing spans far wider than specialist services. This is important to remember as we take this Action Plan forward.

Note: This document uses the term 'women'/ 'woman' and 'men'/ 'man' throughout. It is important to highlight that it is not only those who identify as women or as men who may require access to specific services. For example, some transgender men, non-binary people, and intersex people or people with variations in sex characteristics may experience menstrual cycles and be at risk of pregnancy, and the term 'men who have sex with men' (MSM) may include people who do not identify as men. The actions included within this Plan make clear that all healthcare services should be respectful and responsive to individual needs



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