This essay seeks to discuss a topical health promotion issue in the United Kingdom and to explore the topic in terms of current research findings, support mechanisms currently on offer and the role of the nurse in promoting health and well being. Relevant health promotion models, terms relating to health and health promotion will also be analysed. Primarily the focus will be on sexual health promotion of sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, its effect on young people including barriers that are inhibiting sexual health promotion.
Rationale for choosing sexual health and targeting young people has been the increased concern by the government to promote sexual health in young people necessitated by the rise in figures of sexually transmitted infections. The Department of Health (DoH, 2008c) acknowledges that due to new evidence from research, sexual transmitted infections (STIs) and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are causing a wide range of illnesses and are a significant cause of long term and serious disability in the United Kingdom.
It goes on to mention about the arrival of HIV epidemic in the 1980’s, high infection rates and risky sexual behaviours as the reasons for increased concern among health professionals, the government and the public (DoH, 2008c).
Chlamydia is the most common STI diagnosed in genitourinary medicine clinics in England with high prevalence among young men and women under 25 years old. The highest rates are among the 20-24 year age group in men and 16-19 years in women (DoH, 2008c).
Because of these reasons the government has targeted chlamydia for sexual health promotion through published reports and implementing educational programmes with the help of different public bodies and organisations. Prior to that, ‘pilot studies of opportunistic screening for genital chlamydia’ were carried out in Portsmouth and Wiral between 1999 and 2001, and they revealed high figures of chlamydia infection (DoH, 2008b).
DoH (2003) reiterated that another reason why chlamydia had been targeted was because of serious health problems associated with it since it is asymptomatic and at least three quarters of women and half of men with the infection have not been treated. Furthermore, one in ten young people are unaware of the infection.
Chlamydia is known to cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women and in men it can cause arthritis, epididymitis and Reiters Syndrome (DoH, 2008c).
The anticipated change in the National Health Service (NHS) in dealing with sexual health matters was facilitated by the government through programmes such as the National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV which was implemented in 2001 in conjunction with the DoH and the NHS.
It outlined among other issues the need for a National Chlamydia Screening Programme which was subsequently established in 2003 with the aim of controlling chlamydia in young adults, detecting and treating the infections thereby preventing further infections and complications associated with it (DoH, 2008b).
In 2005 there was a re-launch of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme in collaboration with the Health Protection Agency to raise awareness of Chlamydia amongst young people by offering free confidential screening, a website with factual information on chlamydia which also addresses some commonly asked questions (DoH, 2008c).