- Provide information, advice/counselling about sexually transmitted infections
- You'll need excellent communication skills, empathy and a non-judgemental approach
- Progress to senior sexual health adviser, or a sexual health lead or management role
As a sexual health adviser you'll work with individuals and groups affected by sexual health issues in general and STIs (including HIV) in particular.
- Advise patients on precautions to take with current partners
- Trace and contact previous partners who may have been exposed to the STI
- Promote good sexual health practices
- Counsel patients
- Teach and train
- Carry out research and compile local statistics
You'll usually be based in a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic. There may be some outreach work involved.
This role would be ideal for someone with excellent communication skills, tact, empathy and a non-judgemental approach to care, good organisational and time management skills, the ability to network with a range of organisations, project management skills, good research and analytical skills.
To apply directly for work as a sexual health adviser, you'll need experience in nursing, health visiting, social work or counselling. Some employers may accept you with a degree in a subject such as public health, health promotion or psychology, if you have relevant experience in a health care setting.
You'll also need recognised counselling training, skills and practice, knowledge of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and related sexual health issues and experience in health education and promotion. If you're a qualified nurse, you can prepare for this work by taking further sexual health training courses.
Many trainee nurses or social workers become interested in this work by choosing study options and arranging work placements related to sexual health.
You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in the health or care sector before you apply for a course. You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice. You could also approach charities who work in sexual health, like the Terence Higgins Trust, Brook or Family Planning Association.
You could also do a college course in teaching, assessing and mentoring qualifications or a Level 4 Diploma in Health Promotion and Management to gain some of the skills for this role.
With experience, you could progress to senior sexual health adviser, or a sexual health lead or management role. There may also be opportunities to move into a public health project management role (specialising in sexual health) within local government.