The All Party Group on Sexual Health (APG) was established in 2010 and consists of 10 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) representing all three designations (unionist, nationalist, other).
The group provides a forum for cross party discussion on sexual health and aims to:
- identify and promote innovative and cost effective methods of sexual health clinical service delivery
- encourage education and information initiatives which enable people to develop and maintain the knowledge, skills and values necessary for improving sexual health and wellbeing
- raise awareness in the Assembly of the importance of improving, protecting and promoting sexual health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland.
All Party Group meeting, 7 December 2015
The All Party Group on Sexual Health (APG) met for the second time this parliamentary year, with 17 members attending.
The meeting was chaired by Basil McCrea MLA, with Pam Cameron MLA and Hannah George on behalf of Steven Agnew MLA in attendance.
Since the previous meeting, FPA, which acts as secretariat to the APG, has been liaising with organisations who have an interest in sexual health or whose clients or audience are affected by sexual health issues. Around 10 new members have been approached from across the voluntary and health sectors.
Cara McCann from HERE NI gave a presentation on sexual health issues impacting on lesbian and bisexual (LB) women. There has been much discussion at the APG of LGB and T issues but this was the first presentation specifically highlighting the sexual health of LB women. Cara emphasised that there is very little research on the subject but that issues are significant and include:
- women being given misinformation on cervical screening and sexually transmitted infection risks and so not accessing available services
- access to fertility services and the sexual health risks attached to self-insemination
- lack of training and awareness for health professionals.
Cara said that barriers to accessing sexual health information and services need to be removed and highlighted ways that this could be addressed. APG members reported that the presentation was enlightening and raised issues they hadn't previously been aware of.
Further discussion was had on the theme and events for Sexual Health Week 2016. Suggestions were put forward and members were encouraged to share ideas in advance of a planning meeting on 11 January 2016.
All Party Group meeting, 7 September 2015
The All Party Group on Sexual Health (APG) met for the first time this parliamentary year.
After discussions with APG Chair Paula Bradley prior to the meeting it was agreed that the APG could be strengthened by widening out its voluntary sector membership, so the group is wholly reflective of those dealing with sexual health issues in Northern Ireland. Several new members from the youth, education, health, and disability sectors will be attending meetings in the upcoming year which was welcomed by all those present.
Dr Louise Herron, Regional Lead for sexual health, delivered a presentation on the Public Health Agency’s campaign Choose to protect yourself – always use a condom. The APG commented that the presentation gave a very detailed and informative overview of the strategic and statistical need for the campaign as well as highlighting its key impacts, objectives, target audiences and advertising strategies. The APG recognised the importance of the campaign and stated that they are keen to support its delivery. More information on the campaign can be found at www.sexualhealthni.info
Initial discussions on themes for Sexual Health Week 2016 produced positive and exciting ideas. There was a consensus around the potential theme of ‘informed choices’. Development of the theme and planning for events will be taken forward at future meetings.
The next APG meeting is scheduled for 7 December 2015.
Officers of the APG
Chair: Paula Bradley (DUP)
Vice-Chair: Catherine Seeley (SF)
Secretary: Steven Agnew (Green)
Treasurer: Gary Middleton (DUP)
For further information about the APG contact Ruairi Rowan on 028 9031 6107 or [email protected]