Promoting sexual health

Meeting: 
MQT on 2017-11-16
Session date: 
November 16, 2017
Reference: 
2017/4619
Question By: 
Onkar Sahota
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

I welcome the Mayor's leadership on tackling HIV and associated stigma in London and whilst I understand that rates of new STIs and incidences of STIs are higher in men than in women (1,623 and 1,069 per 100,000 residents respectively) it is still important to promote sexual health in women. What plans does the Mayor have, as part of his work on health inequalities, pertaining to good sexual health outcomes for women in London?

Answer

Answer for Promoting sexual health

Answer for Promoting sexual health

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thank you for your second excellent question of the day and for your support in tackling health and equalities and in tackling HIVI am clear that if we are to address HIV, and promote good sexual health in London, we must ensure that we are leaving no communities behind in the advances we make.  London has seen ground breaking reduction in new HIV diagnosis in gay and bi-sexual men and reductions in some sexually transmitted infections.  I thank colleagues across London who have made this happen including many in this chamber today.  What we must now do is redouble our efforts to focus on all groups and communities that are at risk of HIV and poor sexual health and this absolutely includes women at risk.  Public Health England stats indicate that in 2016 a third of new HIV diagnoses in London were in women.  Trans-women also continue to be at increased risk of HIV and women, including young women, are at risk of sexual transmitted infections.  We must be clear what works for women, where women want to access HIV and sexual health prevention.  In regards to HIV, if we are to tackle new HIV diagnoses in London it is vital that all communities at risk of HIV, including women, are supported to access HIV combination prevention and HIV testing.  This Saturday sees the launch of national HIV testing week and World Aids Day falls on 1 December.  We are hosting an event here at City Hall on World Aids Day to launch a new exhibition focusing on the lives of individuals living with HIVI hope that during this time all Londoners will be thinking, talking and taking action on HIV and sexual health.

 

 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor, for that.  It is good news on the HIV but on sexually transmitted disease (STDs) right across the board, London is bucking the national trend.  It has gone down in the rest of the country but it has gone up by 2% in London and on top of that, London is faced with a £70 million cut right in the public health budget.  We have a cut in the health budget, infections going up and we also have a loss of a strategic health authority across London.  Healthcare in London, particularly public health, is all fragmented.  Given this pressure do you think that the “do it London” campaign, which is very specifically focused on HIV, and there is been discussions on whether this should be extended to look at testing for all STDs right across London.

 

 

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I say this is a really good example.  We, as an Assembly, pay tribute to London councils and the “do it" campaign is a local authority funded campaign and I want to thank the campaign and thank councils and those involved in it for the excellent work it is doing.  The autumn/winter part of the “do it" campaign is actually focusing on STDs as well as HIV.  I suspect your lobbying behind the scenes may have led to some of this happening but I think that the “do it” campaign has been a huge success and I congratulate them and commend them for taking on board your advice in relation to trying to do some work around STDs as well.  I say this, London's population is quite young and some of the lifestyles that obviously people lead -- we were young once as well, -- can lead to people suffering the unintended consequences of that lifestyle.  It is really important people practice safe sex.  What we do not want to see is the increase in STDs that you are talking about get worse.  We want it to peter out and go down. 

 

 

 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  You are absolutely right that it is the young, right, who are being affected from the age of 15 to 27.  37% of the infections are in that age group and of course women are seven times more likely to get those STDs than men, right, but having said that do you think there is a role for City Hall to be running a London-wide campaign in bringing this issue to the attention of these people in particular risk groups?

 

 

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  One of the good pieces of news here from the Government is, they are committed from 2019, to relationship education in primary, secondary schools and relationship and sex education in secondary schools will be compulsory in all schools.  Why does that matter?  This means all schools will be required to teach high quality, up to date information that they [young people] need to make informed decisions about their own sexual health and relationships.  This is a huge, huge step forward when you look at the reasons why there is a high propensity amongst girls and young women than there are amongst boys and young men of the STDs you are talking about.  What we must now ensure is that relationship and sex education includes much needed information on STDs, HIV and other information young people, all young people including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community need to protect themselves from STDs and I will be keeping an eye on this and exploring as compulsory relationships education (RSE) comes in to force whether there is a role for me to add value to the work that they are doing.

 

 

 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Thank you for all the hard work you do in pushing up health issues in a higher priority than the previous Mayor.

 

 

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you.