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.

Our Sexual Health and BBV vision, the role of the action plan and cross cutting policies.

Our fundamental vision is for everyone in Scotland to have good sexual health and wellbeing, and, that high quality, innovative, BBV prevention, care and support is available to those who need it, in a timely manner and irrespective of age, sex, gender, sexual identity, background or location. Following the work of the two Sexual Health and BBV Frameworks, now is the time to focus on the priority areas that will drive progress towards our goals.

This Action Plan focuses on some of the key areas that need specific attention over the next three years. It is not a comprehensive list of all the areas of prevention and care in terms of sexual health and BBV that NHS Boards, local authorities and third sector organisations will wish to pursue over this time. Indeed, there are many excellent projects carried out locally that will enhance the wider strategic aims that we have all been working on since 2011, including a number of Scottish Government projects, which are not specifically mentioned in this Action Plan. Services and organisations should continue to take a person-centred and holistic approach to improving sexual health and BBV care and prevention which means they may wish to progress additional local priorities within their existing resources.

There is a need across all the actions in this plan to ensure the engagement and involvement of people with lived experience in decision-making processes to help shape sexual health and BBV services, policies and research. Engaging with communities who experience the greatest sexual health inequalities, and have the greatest needs for services, is integral to delivering effective services and policies and, ultimately, to improving sexual health and reducing BBVs.

We also need to consider our long-term approach to population health reform given the context of last decade of worsening health and widening inequalities. This Action Plan will help contribute to that by complementing key sexual health and BBV commitments from other relevant policy areas including:

Women's Health Plan (WHP)

The WHP, published in August 2021, sets out actions which aim to address women's health inequalities by raising awareness around women's health, improving access to health care for women across their lives, and reducing inequalities in health outcomes for women and girls.

Improving access to contraception services, including post-partum contraception, is one of the WHP's top priorities. This work will be integral to that of this Action Plan as the two policies work in tandem to ensure effective contraception is accessible to all women who want it. The WHP also has a range of groups and networks which will support the delivery of this plan and will provide vital support to some of the actions.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) sexual health standards.

HIS published in January 2022, ten standards that are designed to improve access to sexual health care and reduce inequalities in outcomes by providing benchmarks for good sexual health care and helping services to identify areas for improvement.

Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education (RSHP)

For many children and young people, RSHP education forms the building blocks of their sexual health and wellbeing learning. RSHP is a vital part of ensuring young people have the learning, skills and resilience needed to have safe, healthy, and fulfilling relationships so that when sexual encounters occur, they have the tools and strategies to ensure these are safe and consensual.

HIV Transmission Elimination Proposal

On World AIDS Day 2021 the Scottish Government committed to the elimination of HIV transmission in Scotland by 2030. To achieve this the HIV Transmission Elimination Proposal, published in December 2022, describes a comprehensive set of twenty-two recommendations to reach this goal. A multi-disciplinary expert group has advised on the prioritisation of these recommendations through a Proposal Scoping Group, and we will work to implement those prioritised actions which will be published later in 2023 through a Delivery Implementation Group over the next three years.

Hepatitis C (HCV) Elimination strategy

Scottish Government has also made a commitment to eliminate HCV as a major public health threat by March 2025. Thus, achieving ambitious targets involving major reductions in the number of people living with the virus and developing severe disease ahead of the World Health Organization's expectations of 2030.

There will be other cross cutting policy areas which are not specifically mentioned here, and wherever possible a joined-up approach should be taken to avoid duplication of effort and tie in with other relevant policy areas such as drugs, gender-based violence and mental health.



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