A farewell to abstinence and fidelity? Comment

Case Studies & Research
2 p.
Periodical title
The Lancet Global Health, 4, 9, e599–e600

Sex has regularly proven to be a polarising issue for the UN Member States, and the 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS on June 8–10 was no exception. The Political Declaration adopted at the meeting addresses the sexual health needs of young people (15–24 years), including adolescents (11–19 years). 2000 new HIV infections occur among young people every day. HIV is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa, and the second-highest cause of death worldwide in this age group. HIV is not their only sexual health concern— globally, 17 million adolescent girls give birth every year, 1 million of them younger than 15 years, and a further 3 million will have an unsafe abortion. For more than 30 years, many sexual health education programmes for young people have promoted abstinence and fidelity as prevention strategies against HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and teenage pregnancy. Long associated with core values of many of the world’s religions, these ideas are, nonetheless, relative newcomers to the lexicon of public health interventions.

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