Sexual Health (professional)

Why is Sexual Health important?

Like mental and physical health, sexual health is an important and wide-ranging area of public health.  Providing the correct sexual health services (e.g. contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections), advice and support (e.g. education sessions, staff training, health awareness campaigns,) across all ages can have a positive effect on population health and wellbeing as well as individuals at risk.

Poor sexual and reproductive health e.g. having sex without a condom, getting a sexually transmitted infections (STI's) including HIV, unplanned pregnancies, can result in significant costs for health services and local authority budgets.

Who do you work with?

The Public Health team in Hertfordshire County Council work with a range of local partners and services (Children's services, clinical commissioning groups, voluntary sector and education settings) to ensure the right actions are carried out for the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

We tailor our approach using local evidence and research to address the needs of:

  • key population groups - targeting services towards those who are at risk of, or are particularly adversely affected by, poor sexual and reproductive health and HIV (e.g. HIV testing for men who have sex with men and black African communities; access to condoms for young people)
  • key geographical areas - delivering appropriate and specific interventions and support to areas with poor sexual and reproductive health and with high levels of HIV infection (Watford, Stevenage, Welwyn/Hatfield and Hertsmere are high rate areas for HIV).
  • key life stages - focusing preventative interventions on critical periods of risk in people's lives (offering chlamydia testing and treatment to young people Under 25 years of age)

For local information and data visit the Hertfordshire JSNA

What we do?

Since April 2013, HCC has been responsible for commissioning most sexual health interventions and services as part of their wider public health responsibilities.  This includes:

SEXUAL HEALTH SERVICES: For Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's), contraception and psychosexual counselling

Sexual Health Hertfordshire provides sexual health and contraceptive services across the county and includes outreach provision that is delivered in 'non-health' settings. This allows more people to get access to an STI test, treatment and contraception.  For more information visit Sexual Health Hertfordshire.

HIV PREVENTION: This includes all HIV testing programmes in sexual health and the testing programmes in non-health settings and online

We provide access to HIV testing through our locally commissioned HIV charity Herts Aid, some GP practices and through the national HIV Home Sampling Service

We promote the importance of getting an HIV test and early treatment during national campaigns including HIV Testing Week.

SEXUAL HEALTH SPECIALIST SERVICES: This includes young people services, outreach, and services in youth settings, universities and pharmacies

We commission over 100 GP practices to provide long acting reversible contraception (coils and implants), chlamydia screening and treatment. 

Chlamydia screening and treatment and emergency hormonal contraception (commonly referred to as the 'morning after pill) is also available for people under 25 years from over 80 community pharmacies.

SEXUAL HEALTH PROMOTION: This includes education and prevention programmes, training and social marketing campaigns

We provide training courses and an annual conference for schools to help improve the quality of sex and relationships education. 

YC Hertfordshire are currently delivering one to one and group sessions for young people, covering sexual health and relationships issues.

A recent social marketing campaign to improve Hertfordshire Men's awareness of local sexual health services generated over 13,000 clicks on to the Hertfordshire website

We have produced a range of resources for professionals to increase awareness of the various methods of contraception.

Read the Relationships and Sexual Health toolkit for guidance on working with young people to address sex and relationship issues.

Key Messages

Prevention messages should be promoted to all sexually active men and women, highlighting that individuals can significantly reduce their risk of catching or passing on HIV or an STI or risking an unplanned pregnancy by:

  • Always using a condom correctly and consistently when having sex with casual or new partners, until all partners have had a sexual health screen.
  • Reducing their number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships.
  • Establishing a regular, reliable method of contraception prior to engaging in relationships