In October 2008, a conference took place in Glasgow, Scotland attended by those who are part of the sexual health family – government Ministers, civil servants, clinicians, managers, policy-makers, researchers, academics, commissioners, health improvement specialists, public health experts, community activists, educationalists, voluntary organisations and many others. They had come together to recognise the work that has taken place across Scotland and in other parts of the UK since the development of the first national sexual health strategy - Respect and Responsibility - and its UK counterparts. The conference was over-subscribed and due to demand has now become an annual event.
The conference showed how far we have travelled in the last few decades in sexual health as, what was once a stigmatised clinical and health issue, has now become more open and less invisible. There are better and more accessible services, improved diagnosis and treatments, higher numbers of trained staff, wider understandings of the links between sexual health and other aspects of collective and individual experience, and a commitment from all UK national governments to improve the poor sexual health outcomes of the population.
This collection arose from the experience of organising and attending that October conference. We felt that the buzz in the room needed to be harnessed and disseminated, and that the creative activities, innovative services and insightful thinking happening across Scotland concerning sexual health should be more widely represented. Both to shed some light on the different political, cultural and structural structures in Scotland, and why that matters in a field like sexual health; as well as to share our experiences as a small nation in tackling challenging poor sexual health in the context of inequalities that are far-reaching.
This collection brings to wider attention some of the main themes that were discussed that day, with papers rewritten by their original presenters, alongside newly commissioned pieces that provide other insights. We hope that this collection appeals to those already in the sexual health family, and to all those friends and neighbours who will find something of interest here. Thanks to all the contributors and those who have provided ideas and support, especially Kelda McLean, Programme Administrator at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
Dr Rosie Ilett
Deputy Director, Glasgow Centre for Population Health
Formerly Head of Planning and Partnerships, Sandyford
Dr Alison Bigrigg
Lead Clinician, West of Scotland Sexual Health Managed Clinical Network
Lead Clinician for Sexual Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
Director of Sandyford