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Sexual health promotion is low among people with serious mental illnesses, despite higher risk

awareness could also be putting mental health professionals at risk of infection. "Four out of ten people who took part in our study admitted they didn't routinely wear gloves when they gave patients injections and glove wearing for other clinical procedures varied."

The survey, carried out in conjunction with Professor Richard Gray from the University of East Anglia, was completed by 283 professionals working in in-patient and community mental health clinical areas.

Most were registered nurses (51%) and other respondents were healthcare and nursing assistants, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and student nurses.

Other findings from the 42-question survey included:

Attitudes to sexual health promotion

  • 69% felt that telling people about the risks was sufficient for behaviour change, 82% that discussing sexual issues did not encourage sexual activity and 91% that people with a serious mental illness should not be discouraged from having sex.
  • 51% felt there should be condom dispensers on wards, but 28% disagreed.
  • 69% recognised that people with serious mental illness could be coerced into sex.

Knowledge about HIV/AIDS among people with schizophrenia

92% were unaware that people with schizophrenia were more likely to have HIV than the general population and 72% did not believe they were more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviour.

Knowledge about risk behaviours and risk factors for HIV infection

  • Knowledge of risk behaviours averaged 91%, with higher awareness of the dangers of unprotected anal and vaginal sex and drug use than oral sex and sharing razors.
  • Risk factor awareness was 59%, with higher awareness of the risks from cuts on hands and bleeding gums than poor physical health and hopelessness.

Glove wearing

  • The number who always wore gloves w

Contact: Annette Whibley

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