ASHA is partnering with organizations around the world in putting a special focus on sexual health during the month of September. The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) is launching its third annual World Sexual Health Day observance on September 4th, for example, and in support ASHA will offer activities throughout the month that include blogs, surveys, downloadable fact sheets, and more.
During September, ASHA will offer expanded sexual health resources that include fact sheets, interviews, questions and answers from our panel of experts, and perspectives on sexual health from a diverse group of voices in the field.
Check back here all throughout September for updates.
A pediatrician. A university professor. Arkansas state health director. The 15th Surgeon General of the United States. An outspoken champion of “bringing sexuality out of the dark ages.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you M. Joycelyn Elders, MD.
Dr. Elders has devoted her life to science in the pursuit of public health and social justice. Now retired but very active, her projects include developing a sexual health education chair at the University of Minnesota that will bear her name. As part of Sexual Health Month 2012, Dr. Elders chatted with us to offer her perspective on where we’ve been with sexual health, and where she hopes we’ll go.
The prescription is straight-talk and sanity. The good doctor is in.
Sexual health touches on many things: relationships, sexually transmitted infections, and matters of social justice. What should our sexual health priorities be?
I think our first priority should be that every person is allowed to enjoy their sexuality to the greatest extent possible, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of another.
ASHA Board member Dr. Eli Coleman, Professor and Director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School, on the link between the HIV epidemic and the way society views human sexuality.
The XIX International AIDS conference was recently held in Washington, D.C. It had been 22 years since the International AIDS conference was held in the United States (mainly due to the unwillingness on the part of the United States to grant visas for HIV-infected individuals– only recently lifted). Here 25,000 scientists, policy makers, health and education ministry officials, advocates, and activists from around the world were gathered with a renewed determination to stem the tide of this epidemic. Medical advances, improved access to care, prevention initiatives, and revived determination were all good signs, but as a global culture we will need to shift our perspective to stop the spread of HIV.
ASHA Board member Dr. J. Dennis Fortenberry, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine where he specializes in adolescent medicine, has conducted research related to adolescents, sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infections for almost 25 years. He shares his thoughts on defining the concept of sexual health.
The phrase “sexual health” encompasses a range of public health and clinical issues related to prevention of sexually transmitted infections. I use the phrase a lot in my own work and its widening currency is a welcome new paradigm in our field. In fact, the concept of sexual health seems to me of fundamental relevance to all aspects of prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
To be honest, though, all of the talk about sexual health doesn’t seem to have influenced the day-to-day particulars of our work. Sex still is primarily seen as a set of risk factors that we counsel against. I am convinced that this perspective on sex and sexuality as “risk” legitimates the stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections and contributes to our society’s poisonous intolerance of sexual diversity
ASHA Board member Dr. Robert Fullilove, Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, reflects on how the discussion of sexual health has changed with the times.
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.
Becky Griesse, Adolescent Sexual Health Program Manager for the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), discusses the need to provide youth with access to STD information, testing and treatment where they spend a larger portion of their day – at school.
Adolescents and sexual health are words not often said together unless it’s referring to negative news like teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates. And while some negative news may be true, it does not give us the full story of adolescent sexual health. There are many youth who lead sexually responsible lives. These youth have been empowered to be abstinent; practice safer sex; communicate with their parents and their partner; and/or get tested for STDs. How can we combine the negative and positive messages to encourage youth to take control of their sexual health? Here’s one example: school-based STD screening.
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