Skills and Development


Having the conversation...

Many people find it hard to have a conversation about sexual health as it is considered a 'taboo' subject. Public Health would like to break down the stigma around sexual health and get people talking. 

speech bubbles communication


It is important to remember why you are having this conversation to begin with. Has an individual come to you for advice or are you wanting to tell them about sexual health services that could support them?  The conversation will be different for each individual. This could be dependent on their age and circumstance. It is important to keep in mind not one size fits all. Not one conversation will be the same even if you are talking about the same subject matter. If you have any concerns, there are organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust who are happy to talk and they also offer free training sessions. We have provided some simple tips which may help conversations flow;


  • Avoid asking questions - phrases work much better. "Tell me why you have come to seek support today". “Tell me more about that”. If you need to ask a question, it is best that it is open ended.
  • Body language – body language is very important. People can pick up on someone’s body language, especially young people who often feel they are being judged. Positive body language can help with this by nodding for example to show that you are listening.
  • Being genuine – if not the individual may lose trust, confidence, and shut down in conversation.
  • Know your limits – it is important that you are able to help the individual but not fall down the well with them. If you feel they need further support or you are unable to advise, it is best to speak to a supporting service. Its okay to be honest with them if you don’t know the answer. It is also very important that you don’t answer personal questions.
  • Positive para-phrasing – it is good to rephrase what the individual has already told you. This empowers the individual and makes them rethink what they have told you already. This can provide clarity for the both of you. Yet it is important not to end sentences on a negative. For example "you do not want to go and get tested?”. Try and state the positives they are doing to look after their sexual health too.

Training opportunities:

Training for professionals and the community in Suffolk is provided by Terrence Higgins Trust. They provide training on the following across Suffolk:

  • Providing free condoms to young people using the C-Card scheme and chlamydia screening
  • Introduction to sexual health
  • HIV awareness
  • Tackling homophobia
  • Other bespoke training including working with young people around sexual health.

To enquire about upcoming training, please contact or call 01473 393100

Training sessions can also be found at under 'multiagency training'. Just search Terrence Higgins Trust in the search bar.

training session

To find out about e-learning opportunities and useful blogs and videos, please visit the Suffolk Sexual Health Network page. 

To find out more information about local conferences and national workshops, you could join the Suffolk Sexual Health Network to receive updates:

Previous conferences

  • The University of Suffolk and The Public Health Academic Forum hosted a Conference on 30th October 2019. This was on Sexual Health & HIV: Contemporary Issues For The Hard To Engage & Vulnerable groups
  • Public Health Suffolk held a Sexual Health Conference on the 25th June 2019
  • If you know about a conference or would like to know more, you could sign up to the Suffolk Sexual Health Network. This gives updates and information on sexual and reproductive health.

Suffolk Sexual Health Network

Page reviewed and updated March 2020. Next Review: September 2020