New city wide sexual health improvement service launched in Leeds
A new city wide sexual health improvement service is set to launch tomorrow (Friday 1 April), uniting HIV prevention and sexual health promotion services for the most at risk groups across Leeds.
The new service, commissioned by Leeds City Council, will expand and improve the community testing and screening offer and will introduce online booking for sexual health services in Leeds from May.
Working with identified at risk groups, including men who have sex with men and black African communities, the new service will also be able to react and support any other communities as needs emerge.
As part of its community-centred approach, the service will be consulting with community members, staff, and organisations to ensure the branding of the new service is acceptable, appropriate and promotes accessibility.
Managed by Yorkshire MESMAC, one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in England, the service will work with underserved and marginalised communities to increase awareness and tackle stigma around sexual health and HIV.
Further elements of the new service include a focus on increasing community participation via volunteering and peer led opportunities, as well as a developing a training programme for Leeds professionals.
Tom Doyle, chief executive MESMAC, said:
“Underpinning the design of the service is the aim of the city’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy: Leeds will be the best city for health and wellbeing, where people who are the poorest improve their health the fastest.
“To do this we have to make sure that no one is left behind, particularly now as new prevention technologies improve the outcomes for on HIV prevention and sexual health promotion.”
Victoria Eaton, Leeds City Council’s director of public health, said:
“This dynamic new service will be key in engaging communities that are disproportionately affected by poor sexual health. Responsive, culturally sensitive community outreach interventions will ensure services are convenient and welcoming, and reduce barriers caused by misinformation and stigma.
“The elimination of HIV transmission in the UK is now considered to be an achievable ambition. Rates of new HIV diagnoses in Leeds have been steadily declining due to advances in prevention and treatment, alongside investment in testing opportunities. This service will create more equitable access to the knowledge, skills and resources required to improve sexual health and reduce HIV transmission.”
For more information about the new service and MEMSAC, please visit www.mesmac.co.uk