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Sexual health is defined as 'a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation 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.'

Most of the adult population in England are sexually active, and having the correct sexual health interventions and services can have a positive effect on population health and wellbeing as well as individuals at risk.

It is important that our resident population have knowledge, access to information and services, and choice, in relation to their sexual health needs. These needs will be different for everyone, influenced by an individual's age, sexual orientation, gender identity, culture, experiences and personal circumstances. Having a range of service and educational provision is important to meet people's sexual health needs across their lifecourse and for their emotional health and wellbeing. Sexual Health service and education provision therefore crosses over a number of the priorities of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy (Starting Well, Living Well, Mental Health and Wellbeing, and Ageing Well).

The emphasis in this strategy is on prevention, diagnosing well, living well, and ageing well. The strategy will help us to make better decisions about how we:

  • Invest in prevention
  • Encourage all our families, children and young people to get the best start in life
  • Ensure vulnerable adults and children feel safe and protected
  • Understand the needs of our communities
  • Develop stronger partnerships with public sector agencies, voluntary organisations and neighbouring councils
  • Assist and encourage people to embrace digital opportunities
  • Involve staff, service users and residents in improving services

We will ensure that this strategy and its action plans do not stand alone but are closely linked to other strategies and plans that also impact sexual health and wellbeing, for example, the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy. It will be evaluated and updated on a regular basis in light of progress, feedback and the evolving needs of our communities. We also recognise the need to be mindful of other areas that could impact on this strategy such as child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, and other forms of sexual violence.

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