How did Sexual Health Week begin?

Sexual Health Week was initiated in 1997 with a campaign called ‘Let’s Talk’, which was all about raising awareness about Chlamydia. Since then, FPA has run a campaign every year, with various themes.

Previous campaigns have included: ‘The middle-age spread’, warning over 50s about the danger of STIs, ‘One too many’, which looked at the links between alcohol and sexual health risk taking, and ‘It’s my right’ which focused on the rights of people with learning disabilities/difficulties to sex and relationships.

The aim of Sexual Health Week is to influence health professionals, the public, and the media by raising awareness of any issues affecting sexual health in terms of patient experience and service delivery.

We Can’t Go Backwards

Sexual Health Week 2013 marks one year of the XES – We Can’t Go Backwards campaign launched by sexual health charities FPA and Brook.

The 2013 Sexual Health Week ran from 16 to 22 of September, with the aim to protect and promote contraception and sexual health services. This year’s focus was on ensuring that everyone has access to information and treatment when they need it, so they can enjoy a healthy, happy and worry free sexual relationship.

Anthea Morris, Director of BetterKnow, said that getting treated for sexually transmitted infections is something that Better2Know patients want to know how to access. “The number of people carrying a sexually transmitted infection is on the rise in the UK and around the world. These STIs range from blood borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C, to bacterial infections including Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis, and these are just the well-known ones. There are many other infections such as Ureaplasma and Gardnerella that, if left untreated and undiagnosed, can permanently damage your health.”

She also commented: “Raising awareness, providing education and information to both patients and the medical professionals, and ensuring access to the best testing available is all part of the work we do at Better2Know. Everyone has a choice of where to get tested. At Better2Know we believe that providing the best information about STIs and delivering the fastest test results will help people to manage their sexual health better and ensure better health for all our patients and their future partners.  Through our private services, patients have access to the best medical professionals who will interpret test results and if necessary, arrange any examinations and medications required to treat the infection.”

The charities say the campaign is intended to raise awareness of sexual health rights and take a stand where those rights are being eroded. It will run over three years, focusing on different aspects of sexual health and with targeted media work across its lifetime, which is why the name of the campaign is: We Can’t Go Backwards.

How successful was the campaign?

The charities reported that the campaign was a success, picking up national and local media interest, particularly importantly from political circles, and that there was a 100% increase in traffic to the website, as well as engagement on social media sites. A report was also sent to Directors of Public Health around the UK to raise awareness of what the adverse effect of the erosion of sexual health services will be.

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