The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK (APPG) aims to raise awareness in Parliament of the needs of women seeking abortion and the importance of improving all aspects of the sexual health of women and men in the UK.
The APPG is co-chaired by Diana Johnson MP and Baroness Barker and supported by FPA, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
Relationships and Sex Education, February 2018
Last year, the government announced that they would amend the Children and Social Work Act to make relationships and sex education compulsory in all secondary schools, and create statutory relationships education (RSE) in primary schools. In December 2017, the Department for Education launched a public consultation to support the development of high-quality guidance for schools.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sexual and Reproductive Health came to together to discuss RSE, covering a broad range of issues including teacher training, funding for resources and linking young people to their local services. The meeting was chaired by Baroness Barker and heard from experts in the field.
Lucy Emmerson, the National Coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, began the meeting by welcoming the achievement of statutory RSE and highlighting the importance of gathering good practise from schools to underpin the new guidance. She went on to outline the 12 principles of good quality RSE, including:
- that RSE is an identifiable part of PSHE, which has planned and timetabled lessons
- that RSE is taught by regularly trained staff; lessons where pupils feel safe and encouraged to participate
- that RSE is evidence based and distinguishes between fact and opinion.
Finally, she spoke about the importance of including mechanisms to change and review the guidance, as well as a training strategy that is supported by a financial commitment.
Jonathan Baggaley, the Chief Executive of PSHE Association, spoke about RSE as a fundamental part of PSHE and said that RSE should be viewed and taught against a backdrop of societal and technological changes.
He highlighted the importance of areas which are known to be effective, including that RSE is appropriate to a pupil's age and maturity, varied teaching styles, the avoidance of scare tactics, and lessons which are structured around themes which are repeated multiple times with increasing complexity, so that previous learning can be built upon.
He closed by speaking about the necessity of teaching PSHE regularly, as a whole subject, assessed and taught by trained teachers, in all schools to all pupils.
Alison Hadley the Director of the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange spoke about the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy as a catalyst for improving RSE. She outlined improvements including:
- the guidance published in 2000
- the funding of Continued Professional Development (CPD) for teachers and school nurses
- the embedding of RSE in the National Healthy Schools Programme
- training for governors.
She also spoke about the clear commitment of councils and the amount already done by councils, such as providing direct support to schools and integrating RSE into wider commissioning for children and young people. She went on highlight examples of particularly innovative and impressive approaches by councils to support schools to deliver high quality RSE, to improve parent engagement and to link RSE to health professionals.
Alison closed by making a number of recommendations directed at government. These included making PSHE education statutory and anchoring guidance in the latest evidence base. She also called for the government to commit to fund the training of teachers and to ensure that schools use accurate, evidence-based information from reliable professional sources. Finally, she called for the establishment of a process to audit improvements in quality RSE.
Baroness Barker concluded the meeting, suggesting there are a few actions that supporters can take to aid the implementation of RSE. This includes the provision of clear and simple messages to MPs, the provision of a strong evidence base to the Minister for Women and Equalities and the provision of simple and accessible information and recourses to schools.
Women and HIV, November 2017
Women make up 52% of people living with HIV. Of 103,000 people living with HIV in the UK, 30,000 are women, the majority of whom are black Africans or from other black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Public Health England figures show that 25% of new HIV diagnoses in 2016 were in women, and women are more likely than men who have sex with men to be diagnosed with a CD4 count lower that 350; a marker of late diagnosis.
The All-Party Parliamentary Groupd (APPGs) on Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV and AIDS came together to discuss some of the unique challenges faced by women in the UK who are at risk of, or living with, HIV. Co-chaired by Baroness Gould of Potternewton and Baroness Barker, the meeting heard from leading clinicians and activists, who were invited to make recommendations about how to improve care and support.
Dr Nneka Nwokolo, a consultant physician in HIV and sexual health at the innovative Soho clinic 56 Dean Street, began the meeting. She explained that women are often unaware of prevention methods such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and that people on treatment for HIV with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit virus. She also told the APPGs about the multiple challenges women living with HIV face, including discrimination with regard to housing and access to services and a significantly higher risk of gender-based violence.
She called on the government to improve funding for support services given their importance for isolated women, citing National AIDS Trust research that estimates that between 2015/16 and 2016/17 there has been an approximately 30% reduction in local authority funding for HIV support services in England. In terms of clinical care and public awareness, she said that women must be better represented in trials, and that there needs to be a review of HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, including home testing and home sampling as well as online PrEP provision, which could help expand access to services.
The next speaker, Juno Roche, spoke about her experience as a trans woman living with HIV. Her talk covered the importance of reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to ensure that trans people get access to healthcare and the lack of data about trans people. She explained that the only data that exists about trans women’s increased risk is global, and mostly relates to trans women of colour living in India or Bangladesh. She said that there is no specific European data, which has resulted in a lack of understanding of how best to effectively target and support trans people. She asked the APPGs to support trans people through the reform of the law and transphobic media backlash.
Deputy CEO of Positively UK, Silvia Petretti, also spoke about her experiences living with HIV. She told the APPGs about her experience with Positively Women as a peer support worker and as the current Deputy Chief Executive of Positively UK, and her work to challenge stereotypes and offer support. Silvia ended her speech by calling for a holistic approach to women’s HIV care, which includes contraception and abortion services.
Finally, Mercy Ngulube, Chair of the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA) Youth Committee, spoke about transitioning from paediatric to adult HIV care, and the need for better services particularly outside of London. She also highlighted the need for public awareness campaigns that reflect what living with HIV is like today, rather than the 1980s’ tombstone adverts.
Baroness Barker concluded the event by a pledging to ask the government about women’s inclusion in the PrEP Impact Trial and continue the APPGs work to ensure that everyone in the UK has access to the highest standard of prevention and treatment services.
New Chair, November 2017
The APPG is pleased to welcome Baroness Barker as the new co-Chair of the APPG. We would also like to thank Baroness Gould of Potternewton, who has chaired the Group for over 20 years and been a tireless advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Officers of the APPG
Officers of the APPG make decisions about the APPG’s meetings and topics. They are elected by the other members of the APPG at the Annual General Meeting.
Co-Chairs: Baroness Barker (Liberal Democrat), Ann Clwyd MP (Labour), Diana Johnson MP (Labour)
Vice Chairs: Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative), Baroness Flather (Crossbench) and Baroness Tonge (Independent Liberal Democrat)
Treasurer: Baroness Blood (Labour)
The UK Parliament website holds a full list of the registered members of the APPG.
Reports by the APPG
The APPG produces reports on key sexual health issues. You can download some of these below.
For further information about the APPG contact Laura Russell on 020 7608 5258 or [email protected]