Universal principles for sexual history taking

When taking a respectful and inclusive sexual health history, it is essential to consider the following aspects to ensure the client feels reassured that their privacy and confidentiality are protected. A skilled and experienced clinician will adopt an approach that sympathetically encourages their clients to share important details of their sexual activity to identify the appropriate testing, treatment, management, and follow-up, including contact tracing.  

  • Maintain privacy and confidentiality.  
  • Consider time available to conduct a sexual history and prioritise questions accordingly.  
  • Ensure cultural appropriateness.  
  • When English is a second language:  
    • Using an interpreter and ensuring an interpreter is used.   
    • Consider language and dialects.  
  • Be conscious of assumptions relating to bodies and sexual activity.  
  • Normalise sexual history taking in general consults. 
  • Utilise inclusive and respectful language.  
  • Ensure clients are connected to community support services upon diagnosis of a blood-borne virus and where otherwise appropriate.   
  • Utilise clinical tools to support an evidence-based approach. Refer to ASHM resources 
  • Support clients with contact tracing.  

          Refer to Australian STI Guidelines – Sexual History for further information and guidance.