Role of local authorities in relation to HIV
The Scottish Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework and 2015-2020 Update bring together four significant areas of public health policy: sexual health and wellbeing, HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. The framework was intended to promote a holistic approach to sexual health and blood borne viruses by making strong links not only between these four policy areas but also by promoting joined-up working across other key areas including education, the early years and drug and alcohol misuse.
Focused on outcomes
Focused on an outcomes based approach, the framework promotes joint working with a key focus on challenging inequalities. Multi-agency partnership working is therefore central and local authorities - alongside the Scottish Government, NHS, and the third sector - have a vital role to play in delivering the five framework outcomes:
- Fewer newly acquired blood borne virus and sexually transmitted infections; fewer unintended pregnancies.
- A reduction in the health inequalities gap in sexual health and blood borne viruses.
- People affected by blood borne viruses lead longer, healthier lives.
- Sexual relationships are free from coercion and harm.
- A society where the attitudes of individuals, the public, professionals and the media in Scotland towards sexual health and blood borne viruses are positive, non-stigmatising and supportive.
Framework recommendations for local authorities
While the framework takes an outcomes based approach, it also provides a number of recommendations for NHS boards, local authorities, third sector agencies which set out the key approaches or deliverables that will support achievement of the outcomes. Specific to local authorities this includes recommendations that:
- Where relevant, local authorities should link progress against Framework Outcomes to single outcome agreements, in conjunction with local partners;
- Local authorities should take a leadership role in addressing teenage pregnancy and should play a key role in implementing the ‘reducing teenage pregnancy’ self-assessment tool;
- Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood education should be provided to all young people, including those not in school, with delivery in line with equality and diversity legal obligations;
- Local authorities should work with partners to ensure that all young people, parents and carers, have access to high quality and consistent information on sexual health and wellbeing; and
- Support services throughout Scotland for those living with HIV should be offered via NHS boards, local authorities and third sector organisations.
An overarching theme of the framework is that all partners have a role in influencing behaviours, lifestyles and risk factors. They should help implement evidence-based prevention initiatives, support testing, strengthen early engagement with treatment services and should provide support services for those living with HIV.
The framework highlights that it is particularly essential local authorities (e.g. education, community services, social work, housing) both recognise and are recognised for the role and contribution they make to tackling blood borne viruses. In addition, the multi-agency approach should centre on and involve people living with and at risk of HIV, to ensure the effective planning of HIV services either directly or through relevant advocacy and support groups.