Sexual health and drugs and alcohol are inextricably linked in terms of promotion, prevention, screening and treatment and therefore the service delivery comes under the remit of the wider sexual health and harm reduction team. The benefits of this are enabling comprehensive and consistent sexual health and harm reduction programmes of work to be delivered city wide; increasing the skill base within an already established and respected team; and ensuring that work is appropriately targeted in line with relevant sexual health , alcohol and drug strategies nationally and locally.
For the purpose of this website both alcohol and drugs and harm reduction have their own sections for more targeted and specific information.
The challenges for professionals working within sexual health in Manchester are numerous and complex. Sexual health is a major public health issue in this City and there are no easy solutions.
The work of the sexual health team is not only concerned with disease or infection but with promoting positive sexual health in a wider context in line with the definition below:
“A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.’(WHO, 2004, p1).
HIV and AIDS and the increasing incidence of specific sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have resulted in sexual health becoming a major international 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. The North West has the highest incidences of HIV, HIV related illness and STIs outside of London and the South East, (HPA, 2005), with the majority of these occurring within Manchester. Sexual ill health is a particular health issue in Manchester, with high teenage pregnancy rates and increases in new incidence of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Manchester is a complex city when social, economic and health related factors are considered. With a population of approximately 400, 000 (MCC 2004), the city has, over the last fifteen years, witnessed extensive redevelopment and grown as a thriving business centre with strong links to Asia, the USA and to several Commonwealth countries. The city centre is now an international, sophisticated tourist destination, and a centre for culture, music and sport.
However, in terms of health inequalities and inequities Manchester has some of the most challenging health problems in the country. In the Index of Multiple Deprivation (2004), Manchester was identified as being the third most deprived city in England (OPDM, 2004).
Manchester itself is very cultural and made up of diverse communities, including people from over seventy different countries. Working with such diversity and health inequalities inevitably raises particular sexual health issues and challenges to individuals, primary care staff, health providers and promoters alike.