COMMENT: PUBLIC HEALTH

Published: 18/08/2005, Volume II5, No. 5969 Page 3

The cover of HSJ's 28 August 2003 edition asked readers: 'Can you afford to go on neglecting sex?' The question was sparked by news that a very small number of local delivery plans were prioritising sexual health and concern that unidentified and untreated conditions could cost both the NHS and patients dear in years to come.

Two years later the situation has improved, with many primary care trusts improving access to genito-urinary medicine clinics.

But as so often happens when some of the NHS begins to take effective action, a smaller but still significant part is left behind.

A survey by the Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health suggests that relevant local targets are missing from nearly a third of PCT LDPs (news, page 6).

Another 28 per cent of GUM clinics did not know whether their PCT's LDPs contained local targets aimed at combating the rise of sexually transmitted diseases.

The management of sexual health is an area in which best practice is becoming more widespread and easier to implement. All PCTs must make it their responsibility to know what that best practice is and put it into action.