Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses – Learning Needs report published

17 September 2021

A new report has been published by Scottish Drugs Forum which assesses the learning needs of the Sexual Health and BBV sector across Scotland.

The report is part of the Sexual Health and BBV team’s contribution to delivering the Scottish Government Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework. The online survey, which went live in June 2021, was completed by frontline workers across the NHS, third sector and local authorities. Its aim was to give an overall perspective and understanding of the training needs and knowledge gaps of workers in relation to sexual health and blood borne viruses.

The survey received over 270 responses, with frontline workers identifying their main area of work as substance use, mental health, housing and homelessness and sexual health.

Results showed that respondents felt most knowledgeable in the causes and effects of stigma, and the least knowledgeable in the elimination of hepatitis C.

Face-to-face training was the preferred first choice of learning for 75.4% of respondents.


Recommendations taken from the survey include:

  • Training opportunities for those working with specific populations (vulnerable young people, those involved in selling or exchanging sex and those involved in chemsex) at increased risk of poor sexual health and blood borne viruses should be increased.
  • When deemed safe to do so, a return to face-to-face training opportunities should be available for frontline staff.
  • Education about sexual health and blood borne viruses needs to start at school and continue throughout workers’ careers.
  • Training opportunities should cover both skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the populations staff are supporting.
  • Increased information and learning opportunities to ensure front-line staff are informed of key government targets such as the elimination of viral hepatitis and working towards zero transmissions of HIV.
  • Stigma around sexual health and drug use should be tackled at all levels of society.


Adrienne Hannah Team Leader of Scottish Drugs Forum’s Harm Reduction, Sexual Health and BBV Team says:

“We were so pleased about the positive engagement that the survey received and with the number of people who completed it. There is a clear interest in staff development and training and great enthusiasm to better engage with people who have drug problems.

“The demand comes both from sexual health and substance use providers keen to ensure a more holistic approach. The team here at SDF will use this and the learning from our experience of delivering in this area to further develop training and capacity building to meet this demand. We thank everyone who participated.”

To read the report, click here.

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