Some of the nation’s best loved agony aunts – Gill Cox, Tracey Cox, Jenni Trent-Hughes, Emma Marlin, Susan Quilliam, Denise Robertson, Deidre Sanders, Dr Pam Spurr and Zelda West-Meads – have come together to support sexual health charities Brook, FPA (Family Planning Association), Terrence Higgins Trust, and MedFASH in their call to protect vital sexual health services.
The agony aunts and charities are calling for the government and decision-makers to maintain their commitment to the nation’s sexual health to prevent it going into a sharp decline.
Despite considerable progress, the UK still has a worrying sexual health record with some of the worst sexually transmitted infection rates in Western Europe. There’s been a steady increase between 2008 and 2010 in chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes diagnoses and HIV is still one of the fastest growing serious health conditions in the UK. Unplanned pregnancy also continues to be a major issue, with an increase of 8% since 2000. And although at its lowest for 30 years, teenage pregnancy in the UK is also the highest in Western Europe.
Charities Brook, FPA, Terrence Higgins Trust, and MedFASH support the sexual health needs of thousands of people in the UK, every day, with wide-ranging, personalised services focused on contraception, pregnancy choices and sexually transmitted infection prevention and testing as well as information, care and support.
All of these charities have recently lost services integral to local communities’ needs, including Brook’s young people’s sexual health services in Stockton, Terrence Higgins Trust’s HIV prevention services in Wales and the FPA Speakeasy parenting, sex and relationships education programme in England. Other charitable and NHS services are facing an uncertain future.
In light of these cuts, the coalition of agony aunts and charities are calling for sexual health services to be improved and expanded rather than cut or reduced.
A statement from the group says: “During economic uncertainty, sexual health services are often seen as easy targets - they’re more likely to go first or lose more of their funding compared to others. Good sexual health is essential to physical and mental health as well as positive relationships, self-esteem and self-identity and personal responsibility. We’re here to remind decision makers that sexual health services must be protected.”
The Sexual Health Coalition of Agony Aunts and charities consists of: Julie Bentley (CEO FPA) Simon Blake (CEO Brook) Gill Cox, agony aunt, Bella Tracy Cox, author and presenter Ruth Lowbery (Chief Executive MedFASH) Emma Marlin, agony aunt, Woman’s Own Sir Nick Partridge (CEO THT) Susan Quilliam, agony aunt, LBC Denise Robertson, agony aunt, This Morning and Candis Deidre Sanders, agony aunt, The Sun Dr Pam Spurr, psychologist and broadcaster Jenni Trent-Hughes, broadcaster and 100 Steps to Transformation Zelda West-Meads, agony aunt, Daily Mail You magazine