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Take Pride In Your Sexual Health

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Colleagues from Manchester Primary Care Trust’s (PCT) Public Health Development Service will be taking part in the Manchester Pride parade. They aim to drive home important sexual health messages to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans Sexual (LGBT) communities, to reduce inequalities in health. This year the parade starts from the Museum of Science and Industry in Castlefield at 2.00pm on Saturday 23 August 2008.

The float will be brightly decorated to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS and PCT staff will dress in doctors and nurses costumes designed to reflect icons over the past six decades. They will be joined by staff from across the NHS to hand out health information leaflets to the public.

The lifestyle exhibition throughout the weekend, 23-25 August, will provide a great opportunity to promote health, give advice and information on a range of health related issues. This includes sexual health, drug/alcohol awareness, support to stop smoking, coronary heart disease (CHD), and cancer prevention. Along with this, the Talking Health initiative which invites members of the public to share their views on developing access to health services across the city.

HIV and AIDS and the increasing incidence of specific sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have resulted in sexual health becoming a major international public health concern in the 21st Century. Nationally, each year more than 1.5 million new episodes of STIs are seen in UK clinics and the figures seem set to rise. Sexual ill health is a particular public health issue in Manchester, with high teenage pregnancy rates and increases in new incidence of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

Manchester PCT is currently working to their local Sexual Health Strategy which has four key target groups – men who have sex with men, black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, young people and vulnerable groups. Priority has been given to work with these groups as they experience high prevalence of HIV and STIs, high incidence rates of HIV and STIs, issues around access to services, excess use of alcohol and drugs, discrimination, risk of behaviour and lack of education. The target groups are also featured in the Department of Health’s national strategy for sexual health and HIV, July 2001.

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To support the work being undertaken with these community groups Manchester PCT provides:

· Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Multi-agency training programme.

· Tailored sexual health promotion resources

· Work in partnership with voluntary sector agencies in the community, such as the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) and Black Health Agency (BHA)

· Community based testing for HIV, Syphilis and Genito-urinary medicine (GUM) screening.

Sexual health services are also provided at the new Hathersage Centre, opened earlier this year. The centre provides access to advice, treatment, testing, counselling and screening on a wide range of sexual health issues.

“Manchester PCT aims to provide modern, high quality NHS services that are easily accessible for all residents in Manchester. We are committed to working with patients, carers and the public to ensure our services meet and respond to the needs of the diverse communities across Manchester,” said Sally Bradley, Director of Public Health, Manchester PCT.