Educational strategies

Educational strategies in HIV and sexual health take into account individual values, knowledge and situations, and ensuring the ethical principle of primum non nocere (first, do no harm) is adhered to.  Nursing input into the sexual health of individual clients, couples, partners and cultural groups, needs to take into consideration diverse issues: sexuality, gender identity, and gender equality, sex, fertility and reproductive health rights, relationships and STIs including HIV.[1] Should a nurse not feel comfortable discussing these issues, it is important that he or she refer the client to a specialist HIV or sexual health service.

In order to gain trust, the nurse needs to present a non-judgmental outlook and to reassure the client of confidentiality when discussing sexual health and sexual practices. The nurse may provide basic information such as that available on quality internet sites; or the nurse may choose to use his or her full professional potential, experience and skills as a patient advocate[2] to gain an understanding of the individual’s values. It is important to dispel misperceptions or internalised (or societal) phobia surrounding sexual health and STIs.[3] [4]

Strategies and tools that can be used to engage and assess clients’ needs and values include HEADSS assessment (Home and Environment, Education and Employment, Activities, Drugs, Sexuality, Suicide, Depression) [5] or the PLISSIT model (Permission, Limited Information, Specific Suggestions, Intensive Therapy)[6] or a specific sexual health history and risk assessment: See, for example,