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GP practices should offer opportunistic sexual health testing, study finds

GPs should offer opportunistic sexual health testing to young patients attending routine appointments, researchers recommend.

A study published today in the BJGP found that young people aged 16-24 preferred being offered a test to asking for one. It also found young people prefer having the test in their GP practice, rather than at a sexual health clinic.

The patients were inteviewed about their views either before or after a routine appointment where they were offered an HIV test, as well as chlamydia testing, contraception advice and free condoms – also knowns as ‘3Cs’.

The researchers, from the Gloucester Royal Hospital, found that 'participants displayed a clear preference for 3Cs and HIV to be offered at the GP practice over other sexual health service providers' and 'highlighted convenience of the practice, assurance of confidentiality, and that the sexual health discussion was appropriate and routine'.

The study also noted that there was a lack of awareness among young people of the sexual health services available in their GP practice, and a general lack of knowledge about sexual health.

The authors said this could be improved by offering more comprehensive tests at GP surgeries and providing more information during consultations, for example making clear that patients can choose a male or female clinician, how samples are taken and providing reassurance about results.

The paper concluded: 'General practice staff should facilitate patients’  preferences by ensuring that 3Cs and HIV testing services are made available at their surgery and offered to appropriate patients in a non-judgemental way.'

But the findings come as financially challenged local authorities are widely cutting funding for sexual health services in GP practices around England, as previously revealed by a Pulse investigation.

Readers' comments (12)

  • GPs are ideally placed...

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  • Same old BS.

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  • We are not funded for this. We have no time.

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  • This is no more a study than my children's Christmas Lists is a 'study'.

    Of course now I don't pay for the BJGP Father Christmas may be more able to fulfill said Christmas Lists....

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  • Cobblers

    Hahahaha. Yeh right. Don't forget the broom up my fundament so I can do the cleaning job as well.

    Idiots.

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  • Jones the Tie

    mmm another Utopian dream of 'GP can do everything'. To be honest I have enough work to do without going looking for it 'opportunistically' I'll wager none of the authors have any significant front line experience in General Practice. I'd like my 'urgent' rheumatology referrals to be seen before the current 33 week wait but that doesn't mean it is going to happen by me 'surveying' my colleagues and asking that question now does it. Xmas list rubbish

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  • In a communist system it is politically troublesome to admit that workers have comparative advantages in their skills.

    I am the fastest typist by far in my practice and can complete admin work at twice the speed of my admin staff. My admin staff however can't diagnose and manage medical problems. Adam Smith teaches us that we should specialise to achieve better outcomes, hence my admin staff have a job despite me being better than them at their job!
    Unfortunately with NHS GP it is free at the point of unlimited use and is therefore valued at £0 at the margin. This leads to nonsense proclamations like the 'study' above.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Academically, sound
    Politically , stupid
    The fact the government is to cut Public Health England budget substantially, this study is simply published in the wrong place and wrong time.......

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  • Can we institute an insane suggestion of the week award? Doctors could add it to their CV along with the list of useful papers they have penned.

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  • Just because we're efficient at what we do doesn't mean we should do the job of every other crap service in the NHS! How about all other NHS groups aspiring to achieve the staggering efficiency of general practice ?

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