One evening, during the week of the 2001 ISSTDR meeting in Berlin, I met with a couple of colleagues for beers after the day’s proceedings. We lamented the fact that the focus of these types of conferences was always on disease and that a broader sexuality frame work was missing. “It is time to put sex into STD prevention”, one of my colleagues said. The comment was a bit wistful at the time and I don’t think any of us could have foreseen that a decade later our field is expressing so much more interest in sexuality and sexual health.
“In a diverse world, sexual health for all. This theme seems to synthesize the idea of celebrating diversity (including sexual and other diversities) and globalization with sexual health for all.”
--World Association for Sexual Health (WAS)
In prepping for World Sexual Health Month I naturally spent some time on the WAS website, and have been brooding over just what “sexual diversity” really is.
So what’s a sexually diverse world look like?
This September, we have good reason to cheer and celebrate! The third annual World Sexual Health Day is celebrated on September 4th across many countries worldwide under the aegis of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS), a worldwide group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promotes sexual health and sexual rights for all without discrimination or prejudice. The theme for 2012, “In a diverse world, sexual health for all,” encompasses, in its broad sweep, people of all ages, interests, needs and abilities.
Sexual health is a concept that represents a real break from my past. As I am fond of pointing out in my lectures and my classes, I am the son of a urologist who was very concerned with sexually transmitted diseases in his medical practice. I grew up in the 1950s and early 60s, when sex was not the topic of polite conversation and certainly not a subject that dads and sons discussed regularly. However, when I reached the age when boys were expected to sew wild oats, my dad did more than just struggle through the obligatory birds-and-bees conversation.
He told me about his work.