It has been four years since we brought together our separate policies on sexual health, hepatitis C and HIV into the Sexual Health and BBV Framework. A great deal has happened over that period, and we have made significant progress in some areas, as this update to the Framework sets out. But the job is in no way complete, and we were clear four years ago that the high-level outcomes we identified would not be delivered quickly - this was always a much longer journey. We remain ambitious about continuing that journey, about setting ourselves testing targets and about trying to tackle difficult problems in this important area.
However we must acknowledge that there are challenging times ahead. With increasing pressure on the NHS and public sector, with welfare cuts exacerbating problems for many vulnerable people, and with changes in society and culture it is not enough for us simply to do 'more of the same'. We have to think differently and react and adapt to emerging issues and opportunities. This updated document seeks to do that, in our commitment to research, in our commitment to tackling viral hepatitis, and in the way we will respond to key developments in the world of HIV and sexual health. We will build on our successes and continue trying to find solutions to those problems we haven't yet solved.
I am proud of what we have achieved over the last four years. I am proud of the original Framework and its ambition to improve services, to better support people who are affected or at risk, and to support the NHS and other service-providers in the work they do. I am particularly proud of our bold commitment to challenge stigma in all its forms. I believe that over the next five years, through this updated Framework and by building on the excellent foundations that have been laid, we can continue to make real progress towards a society whereby attitudes towards sexual health, HIV and hepatitis are supportive and non-stigmatising, and towards healthy relationships based on choice and free from coercion or harm.
Scotland is leading the way on a number of issues covered by this Framework, and I am keen that we can achieve a similar level of success across the piece. I look forward to working closely with those involved over the coming years to make that a reality.
Maureen Watt MSP
Minister for Public Health
Email: Lynsey Macdonald