HIV Scotland in compulsory sexual health lessons call
A charity has called for compulsory sexual health lessons in schools over fears that youngsters are missing out on vital information to prevent HIV.
HIV Scotland said an average of two young people between the ages of 15 and 24 north of the border were diagnosed with the virus each month.
It claimed young people lacked "consistent" access to HIV information.
It also argued that lessons on sexual health did not have parity with other areas of the curriculum.
The charity wants discussion about HIV to be a fundamental part of relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP) lessons to help pupils increase their understanding of HIV and minimise their risk.
In a report, it stated: "Education is the fundamental tool in equipping young people with the information they need to reduce their risk of HIV infection, and a means of combating the stigmatising attitudes towards people living with HIV that continue to prevail within society."
It noted that sexual health lessons in Scotland were not compulsory and found that "inconsistencies exist across Scotland's 32 local authorities on how lessons are taught, the resources that are used and the level of content related to HIV".
Calling for RSHP lessons to be improved "urgently", the report issued various recommendations for change.
It suggested: "Updated RSHP guidance should be produced in collaboration with key stakeholders in education and ensure a stronger focus on HIV.
"Legislation should be introduced to the Scottish Parliament for RSHP lessons to become a compulsory component of the curriculum."
Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish government would carefully consider the report.
She said: "Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood education is an integral part of the health and wellbeing curriculum and it is for local authorities and schools to decide how best to deliver the curriculum based on local needs.
"As well as working with the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) Campaign to improve the inclusive approach to sex and relationships education, we are undertaking a national review of personal and social education."
There are currently 5,134 people diagnosed with HIV living in Scotland.