Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Sexual Health Education

Good sexual health is something that is publicised by the NHS a lot. The trust I work for frequently has localised campaigns around sexual health. However, my clinics are full every day with people who are worried about the possibility of having a sexually transmitted infection. Many of them do have something to worry about as they have practiced unsafe and risky sex on a relatively frequent basis. Why, when the NHS spends so much money on educating people about good sexual health are we still in a position where people are regularly practicing unsafe sex and exposing themselves to Sexually Transmitted Infections.

I work in a hospital in the centre of a large city and we see people from all around the city, some from the more affluent areas and some from the less affluent ones. When they come, we give them advice (as well as testing them for the STIs which they are most at risk of having) and they leave with a load of condoms and literature on sexual health and safe sex. However, one does wonder whether the patients use the free condoms they’ve been given or if they read the literature we give them. I suspect that some do not, while others do.

Sex Education in schools leave a lot to be desired. Pupils are not receiving adequate information on safe sex and sexual health. They get the very basics about STIs, but that’s not enough. I went into a school with a community nurse as part of my training a while back and I asked the group we were with whether they knew what a GUM Clinic was, how to find one and the importance of being tested whilst being sexuall active (the group was full of 16/17 year olds). Few knew what a GUM clinic was, fewer knew how to find one and even fewer again knew the importance of getting tested for STIs. This concerned me greatly, needless to say by the time we’d finished I had given them all the information they needed (whether they paid any attention or not is another matter).

Better education in schools on Sexual Health is something I really do think we need. Just now we have a situation where the quality of sexual health education varies between schools. A national sexual health education curriculum which is taught in all schools across the country is something we desperately need if we are going to tackle the ever rising numbers of people diagnosed with STIs.

Have sex, but safely please!

Human immunodeficiency virus

Diagnosing a patient with HIV is something I do not like having to do, but today I had to break it to an 18 year old male, who we'll call Darren, that he is HIV positive. Darren is an extremely sexually active bisexual male who regularly has one night stands with both men and women and often without protection. Darren has the problem that for many of his recent "conquests" he has no contact details at all. He vaguely remembers having sex let alone the person's name and telephone number. This means that Darren cannot get in contact with the majority of his recent "conquests" to inform them of his HIV status and to suggest that they too get infected with HIV.

Darren will now be on a concoction of drugs for the rest of his life, some of which have short term side effects which are not all that pleasant. On top of that he will need to get used to the change this will have on his life... His attitudes and behaviours towards sex will need to change and his daily routines will need to change to ensure that he takes his medication.

After his results appointment with me, at which I spoke about his result, the mediatisation he'll need to take, the side-effects, the importance of taking all his medication regularly and exactly as prescribed he would have had some post-test counselling. A time where Darren could talk about how he feels about the result etc.

This is the side of my job that I do not enjoy.

Monday, 16 March 2009


Welcome to my blog. I’m a Junior doctor in the National Health Service and I work in Genito-urinary medicine. Basically, this is the branch of medicine that deals with sexually transmitted infections. My job is really interesting and I feel that I can make a real difference to the lives of people, my medic friends think I’m slightly weird for going into the particular branch of medicine. Maybe I will one day tell you why I decided upon this branch of medicine.

Nicholas Kelly is not my real name and I do apologise to the one real Dr Nicholas Kelly who is listed on the GMC register.

That’s all for now.