Sexual risk taking and its
influence on our health
World Health Organisation has defined sexual health 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” (WHO)
The Morbidity and Mortality of Unsafe Sex
risk factor “unsafe sex” has been defined by the ‘World Health Organisation’ as
“sex between a susceptible person and a partner who has a sexually transmitted
infection (STI), without taking measures to prevent infection”.
predominant ramifications considered with sexual risk taking was infection with
HIV, which is accountable for majority of mortality and morbidity associated
with STIs. (WHO)
to research done by the Word Health Organisation HIV infection was found to be the
fourth leading cause of mortality in the world. Along with HIV a variety of
other infectious agents can be transmitted through sexual contact, such as HPV,
chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea. Although having sex may place a person at
risk of being infected by any of these agents, it is hard to assess the scale
of this risk.
to the World Health Organisation “Sex can only be defined as “safe” or “unsafe”
if something is known about the context in which it takes place and with whom”.
that person’s partner has an infection, which they can transmit to the partner,
having sex does not place a person in danger of contracting a disease. Government
Policies have been implemented nationally and internationally as behavioural
strategies to encourage a change in behaviour to
reduce HIV transmission.
Government policies implemented to influence our behaviour
in the quality and scope of sexual and reproductive health promotion and HIV
prevention have been made in the past couple of years.
On October 29th 2015 the Department of
Health have launched the ‘National Sexual Health Strategy’ from 2015 until
2020. This Strategy is a framework for
the sexual health and well-being of the Irish population. (Department of
Health). The Department of Health’s vision is that the Strategy will guarantee
that everyone in Ireland experiences positive sexual health and wellbeing, and
has access to high quality sexual health information, education and services
throughout their life. (Department of Health).
Approach recognises the importance of developing healthy attitudes to sexuality
throughout childhood and adolescence and sets the foundations for a positive
sexual health and well-being needed for a healthy adulthood. (HSE)
Strategy aims to improve sexual health and well-being and reduce negative
sexual health outcomes.
aims will be addressed by the following predominant goals:
Comprehensive and age-appropriate sexual health information and/or
education will be given to everyone in Ireland. As well as access to
appropriate promotion and prevention services.
Reasonable, accessible and quality driven sexual health services will
be available to everyone and,
Vigorous and high quality sexual health intelligence will be
generated to reinforce policy, practice, service planning and strategic
Department of Health have chosen three fields in which they will specialise in
to achieve these goals;
Sexual Health Promotion, Education and Prevention,
Sexual Health Services and finally,
Sexual Health Intelligence.
Promotion, Education and Prevention
Ireland will receive comprehensive and age-appropriate sexual health
information and/or education. As well as access to appropriate promotion and
The promotion of sexual health and well-being is about
giving people to foundations and opportunities to improve their sexual health
and to improve their health management.
These outcomes require a combination of sexual
health education and healthy public policy aimed at creating a supportive
environment for sexual wellbeing. (Department of Health)
The aims of sexual health promotion, education and
prevention initiatives are:
· to encourage the development of a healthy sexuality throughout
· to reduce negative outcomes such as transmission of sexual infectious
agents like HIV and crisis pregnancies.
· On top of that, to support the creation of a cultural and legislative
environment in which sexual health and well-being can thrive.
The Ottawa Charter
incorporates five key strategies for health promotion that correlate with the ‘National Sexual Health Strategy’ that the Department
of Health have administered.
Promotion, Education and Development will develop personal skills, because health promotion in general supports personal
and social development by providing information, education for health, and
enhancing life skills in school, home, work, and community settings. (WHO)
of Sexual Health Promotion, Education and Development will strengthen community
action, as communities are empowered through access
to information and learning opportunities for their health. Education
results in effective community action in setting priorities, making decisions,
and planning and implementing strategies. (WHO)
to the Department of Health “Reasonable, accessible and quality driven sexual
health services will be available to everyone living in Ireland”.
of Sexual Health Services such as; education/information and support, crisis pregnancy management, counselling, information and support services;
contraception services/family planning services will help construct a healthy public policy. The reason for this is because joint action contributes
to ensuring safer and healthier public services, and cleaner, more enjoyable
Services will create supportive environments because they allow us to take care of each other, our communities, and
our natural environment.
Sexual Health Intelligence
health intelligence will be utilised to reinforce policy, monitoring strategies,
practice and service planning. (Department of Health)
Health intelligence supports good decision-making
for better health and health outcomes by using an evidence base. The
development of evidence-based analyses, to inform key strategic and operational
decision-making, will be prioritised and supported and will underpin all
strategic actions in line with the Healthy Ireland Framework. (Department of Health)
Intelligence will help re-orientate health care services because the Health intelligence supports good
decision-making for better health and health outcomes by using an evidence
the ‘National Sexual Health Strategy’ was launched there has been a decrease in
the number of sexually-transmitted infection (STI)
In 2015, the year the strategy was
launched there was a total of 6,975 cases of STI’s recorded. The following year
there was a significant decrease in the number of cases with 5,302 cases of STI
reported. Last year there was a slight upsurge of the number of STI cases
on the statistics above provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE), we can
say that the Strategy has succeeded in its aim of improving
sexual health and well-being and reducing negative sexual health outcomes. However,
the number of STI cases are still on the rise.