We're super fortunate to have a clinical team of doctors, nurses and sexual health support workers at SH:24. It ensures we provide clinically sound advice from people who have experienced working in some of London's busiest clinics and hospitals and foster a learning culture throughout the organisation. One member of our team is clinical support worker, Stuart - here's a bit more of an introduction to what he does...
Hello, Stuart. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do for SH:24 and how you came to join the team?
I am a clinical support worker here at SH:24. I am one of the people who answers your text messages and sends results to you. Before working full-time for SH:24 I was a health care assistant at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Guys and St’ Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust's sexual health services. Whilst there I learned a lot about HIV and STIs. In the HIV clinic I was the person you saw before a nurse or the doctor. I would take people's bloods and do a sexual health screening if needed.
Whilst working at Camberwell Sexual Health Centre I got involved in the early development of SH:24 when the team worked with patients to understand how people experienced the test kits and explaining how it worked to anyone who wanted to take part. When this role became available it seemed like the right place to be. Having seen SH:24 grow into the service it has become today, I was keen to help spread the word about online sexual health testing and support users of the service.
What are the differences between working in an online service and a clinic setting? What have you found to be similar?
The main difference between working for SH:24 and in a clinic is that I do not deal with the service user’s face to face. Other than that it is very similar. I also like the fact that we can reach people that don’t have easy access to services and give them advice and help them with testing.
What has prompted your interest in sexual health?
Since school I have always had an interest in HIV. Having done different jobs before this one, it has taken a while for me to work in an area that I feel is where I can be most beneficial. While working in sexual health I have found it even more interesting that I ever thought. There is still some stigma around sexual health that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. I like being part of an organisation that can help to reduce some of this stigma
The introduction of PrEP has added another interesting element to sexual health and HIV prevention. I am enjoying learning about it and how it is perceived within different social groups; both positive and negative perceptions. My job at the end of the day is to give our users the information they need to help them have safe and enjoyable sex so it helps to know what myths and misperceptions are out there.
What are some of your favourite things to do outside of work
I do like to go on a holiday. In the next 12 months I will be going to Gran Canaria, Disneyland Paris and Orlando (you may guess I do like Disney, though my bank balance my not like it as much).
I am also a musical theatre fan but do get to go as often as I would like. Miss Saigon and The Book of Mormon are two of my favourite shows. I'm also hoping to see Hamilton when more tickets become available.
Thanks, Stuart - hope you get some Hamilton tickets soon!