This website is now part of Public Health Scotland. Publications released after 16 March 2020 are now published on the Public Health Scotland website.
Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

We work with everyone at a national and local level who has an interest in positive sexual health wellbeing and HIV. You can find information below on

  • data on sexual health and HIV
  • the impact of inequalities on sexual health and HIV
  • sexual health publications for practitioners to use with the public.
  • Prevalence of hepatitis B remains low at 0.2% of the population.
  • The teenage pregnancy rate (per 1000) has dropped between 2007 and 2014 across all levels of deprivation.
  • In 2014 in the under 20 age group, a teenage female living in the most deprived areas is 5 times as likely to experience a pregnancy as someone living in the least deprived.
  • The number and rate of terminations of pregnancy declined between 2007 and 2014.
  • An estimated 83% people living with HIV have been diagnosed, 93% who have been diagnosed are on treatment and 94% have viral suppression.

 You can read more data on sexual health on the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) website (external).

Sexual health and health inequalities

As a public health issue, sexual health encompasses

  • reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy
  • the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • minimising risk-taking behaviours and their health consequences
  • promoting positive sexual relationships and sexual wellbeing.

Inequality impacts on sexual health, with some people particularly at risk of negative outcomes such as STIs and unintended pregnancies. These include

  • prisoners
  • people living in deprived areas
  • people with learning disabilities
  • individuals involved in commercial sexual exploitation
  • looked-after and accommodated children and young people
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) people.

For example, there is a strong correlation between deprivation and teenage pregnancy. There is also evidence of low uptake of or late access to services, stigma and discrimination experienced by

  • LGBTI people
  • disabled people
  • those with an HIV diagnosis
  • people with communication support needs.

Action by Health Boards and Integrated Joint Boards is key to reducing sexual health inequalities, including

  • improved processes for data collection across the NHS, local authority and third sector
  • promotion of the use of condoms and longer lasting contraception among young people and men who have sex with men
  • greater focus on sexual wellbeing as part of prevention whilst continuing to provide accessible safe and timely sexual health services
  • encouraging earlier diagnosis of blood borne viruses through more community based and self-testing opportunities continuing a strong educational focus on health nurturing and fulfilling sexual relationships regardless of age, gender, sexuality, disability or ethnicity.

National and local action

The SHBBV Framework

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (SHBBV) Framework (external website) sets out the Scottish Government’s vision in relation to sexual health, HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B.

Multi-agency partnership is a key feature of the framework. The Scottish Government, the NHS, local authorities and the third sector all play vital roles in delivering the outcomes which have challenging inequalities as their key focus

The Framework has resulted in significant developments including

  • local executive and clinical leads
  • key clinical indicators and standards
  • a range of managed clinical networks
  • the Wellbeing in Sexual Health and HIV (WISHH) network
  • more integrated services resulting in better access to care and treatment
  • the National Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Advisory Committee, chaired by the Minister for Public Health.

The Scottish Government’s SHBBV Framework 2015–2020 Update (external website) reports on progress made through the framework since 2011 and identifies key areas that require focussed attention and where a different approach could influence results.

Sexual health publications

We provide publications and toolkits for professionals working in the field of sexual health and wellbeing. 

We have also produced a series of evidence-informed briefing papers covering sexual health and HIV.

If you are interested in our work in improving sexual health and wellbeing, you can email the Population Health team with any queries.