Sexual health advisers look after the physical and mental wellbeing of patients who have been diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), in particular HIV. They provide information, advice and counselling to individuals and groups, as well as carrying out research into STIs. In this guide, we’ll explore the role of a sexual health adviser.
To be considered for a role as a sexual health adviser you should have experience in nursing, counselling, social work or health visiting. A degree in public health or a similar subject will be desirable, while work experience gained while studying will put you in a favourable position. Knowledge of STIs, HIV and related health issues are vital requirements.
You should be an excellent communicator, be tactful and be able to respond with empathy to patient issues. The role also requires good time keeping, organisational skills, research and analytical skills.
What You’ll do in the Role
Primarily, you’ll work with patients who have been infected or affected by STIs and HIV. You’ll advise patients to take precautions with sexual partners and trace any former partners the patient may have had. Educating and counselling patients will be a big part of your day to day duties, as well as promoting good sexual health practices.
Income and Hours
Full-time posts in the National Health Service generally require employees to carry out 37.5 hours a week. Part-time posts are available and those hours can vary.
The salary a sexual health adviser can earn is between £25,000 and £33,500 a year. You’ll most likely be based in a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinics.
STI home testing kits are available for those concerned about possible infections. For example, the NHS runs schemes such as https://www.checkurself.org.uk/order-a-test-kit/, which offer free STI testing in London. The role of a Sexual Health Adviser complements schemes like this, promoting safe sex and the need to get tested regularly.
Jobs regularly appear on the NHS jobs website, individual NHS Trust websites, health service journals and in newspapers.
There are opportunities to apply for more senior sexual health adviser roles if you have the required experience. Once you have gained a role within the NHS there may also be opportunities to study for higher qualifications to further your career.