My first reaction to this book is that I didn’t like its cover - a scene of conflict between parents and their daughter. Surely a book such as this should be about trying to prevent such conflict, to aid communication between parents and their young adults. A more positive cover illustration should have been considered.
Nicolette Heaton-Harris' introduction is too alarmist in its approach and refers to diseases rather than consistently using the term infections. I think that her assertion that this Essential Guide is the definitive work on sexually transmitted infections (for the sexually active layperson) is slightly over-blowing her own trumpet.
However this book does indeed cover all of the sexually transmitted infections. The chapters are concise, Q&A based. The information about the actual infections is good and easy to read and understand. The author includes a good chapter at the end on useful websites.
An area of concern with this book is that the author is not fully informing readers about pathways for screening, testing and treatment. She predominantly refers to treatment at GU clinics, or "your doctor" or "doctor's surgery". In many parts of the UK the Community Contraception and Sexual Health Services are doing increasing amounts of screening, testing and treating STIs. These may be known as the former "family planning clinics" , which now offer in many parts of the UK sexual health services as well as contraceptive services. There are also many young people's services such as Brook Advisory Centres.
Young people frequently do not want to consult their own family GP and will find local community services, which will often have links with local schools through their PHSE curriculum, more accessible.
Nicolette Heaton-Harris' information on the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) , was incorrect. This programme is offering screening outside of GUM services. She states that females under 25 can be tested as part of the programme. In fact it is important to promote that young men under 25 can also be screened for chlamydia as part of the programme. Getting young men into a culture of being screened is essential for the reduction in prevalence of these common STIs and a chapter on talking to your son about STIs would have been a useful addition. How do we encourage young men to take responsibility for their own sexual health?
If this book encourages communication between parents and young people on matters sexual and helps demystify and destigmatise STIs, then it will be doing a good job. Non-biased , non-judgemental information is essential to promote healthy sexual lifestyles for young people and adults alike.
If parents like a book to hand on these matters to dip in to when they have the time then Sexually Transmitted Infections The Essential Guide would be useful. Plus services such as NHS Direct are excellent at sign-posting people to up-to-date, UK-based health websites which, if chosen carefully, are probably the most effective way of getting current, accessible information on sexual health.