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Health & Social Care careers

Social Care: Sexual Health

Why is sexual health so important?

According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), there were almost half a million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the UK last year.

Sex isn’t such a taboo anymore! It’s actually okay to talk about it. Unfortunately, some people still don’t practise safe sex or don’t know who to go to when they need help with a sexual health problem. People who work in sexual health provide advice on all sexual health issues and aim to get those STD numbers down!

What jobs can I do in sexual health?

Essentially, careers in the sexual health side of social care are all about providing members of public with valuable support, advice and guidance with regards to sexual health issues. Your job will also be about promoting the importance of safe sex.

You might be working in a sexual health clinic, in universities, schools and further education colleges. You might even be going out into public places to promote safe sex and conduct minor sexual health tests. You may have even heard about people conducting chlamydia tests in bars and clubs!

Whilst your job might partially involve actively conducting sexual health tests and sending the samples off to labs, you will also be required to provide counselling and support sessions for people suffering from HIV or AIDS or patients who have recently been diagnosed with STDs, as well as advising people who are looking to find out more about their contraception options.

The most likely role that you can take on in this area is that of a sexual health nurse. For this specialist role, you will need to undergo the same period of training as other nurses in the NHS.

What do I need to work in sexual health?

People could come to you for help with any kind of sexual health-related problem or query. They might be asking for contraception advice, information on fertility, or how to have a healthy and fulfilling sex life. You’ll be dealing with people of all genders and sexualities, and so it's naturally very important to be open-minded.

As you can probably tell, these roles require you to be sensitive, thick-skinned, discreet and genuinely kind and friendly. If you’re up to the task, these careers can be extremely rewarding.

Many STDs are now relatively easily to treat. People can feel embarrassed or upset and angry, but you can help them! Even with STDs that can’t be ‘cured’ such as HIV, there are excellent treatments available now, so that people can live long and relatively healthy lives.

Thanks to television programmes such as Embarrassing Bodies and The Sex Education Show, we British are beginning to become less prudish when it comes to talking about sex. If you’re not easily embarrassed and are happy to be frank about these topics, and genuinely want to help people who are potentially in very unfortunate positions, this could be the right career path for you.

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