Sexual health promotion

Sexual health is an important part of physical and mental health, as well as emotional and social well being. DHSSPS works with a wide range of organisations to prevent sexual ill health and promote sexual health among the population of Northern Ireland

Sexual health promotion strategy and action plan

The 'Sexual Health Promotion Strategy and Action Plan (2008-13)' aims to improve, protect and promote the sexual health and well being of the population of Northern Ireland. The 'Progress and Priorities: Addendum to the Sexual Health Promotion Strategy and Action Plan' extended the strategy with an updated action plan until December 2015. Implementation of the DHSSPS sexual health promotion policy is led by the Public Health Agency through a regional Sexual Health Improvement Network (SHIN) of key stakeholders which includes voluntary organisations.

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cause a wide range of illnesses and can have long-term effects on people's lives. STIs include Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhoea, Hepatitis B, HIV and Syphilis.

More information on STIs, relationships and Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) and sexual health clinics is available at the Sexual Health Northern Ireland website, managed by the Public Health Agency.

Information on sexual health and HIV is also available on NI Direct.

Sexual health and HIV data

The Public Health Agency collects data on sexual health services and STIs diagnosed in GUM clinics in Northern Ireland. The surveillance arrangements for HIV/AIDS infection are based largely on the confidential reporting of HIV infected individuals to the Public Health England's Centre for Infections in London.

Annual reports on STI and HIV surveillance in Northern Ireland are published on the Public Health Agency's website.

The department's survey of lifestyle choices and behaviour gathers information on a range of sexual health issues amongst young people and adults in Northern Ireland.

Teenage Pregnancy

Unplanned pregnancy and parenthood can have an important impact on individuals, and in particular, young people. Teenage pregnancy is associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation and poverty. The 'Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Strategy and Action Plan (2002-2007)' aimed to reduce the number of births to teenage mothers and minimise the impact of early parenthood. Action to prevent teenage pregnancy has since been integrated into the DHSSPS sexual health promotion strategy and action plan. Continuing to reduce the number of births to teenage mothers, particularly in those areas where rates are higher, remains a high priority.

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