It is impossible to end HIV without SRHR

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Ahmet Kayhan KORKUSUZ, a first-year medical student at Istanbul Medipol University, Turkey. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Have you ever heard about the relationship between SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights) and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) before? Most people know what HIV refers to, yet they do not know what exactly SRHR does. It is the term which reveals several issues which have been affecting both men and women for years, like HIV. It has four fundamental rights, such as sexual health, sexual rights, reproductive health, and reproductive rights.

To begin with, sexual health refers to not having any sexual illnesses and violence. To prevent sexual illnesses people, particularly young people, must be careful about who they are in a relationship. In addition to that, there are over two billion teenagers who live with HIV. Next, ‘‘sexual rights’’ is the term which means having the ability to decide on your own sexuality. People are ought to be free to make decisions about pleasure, privacy, and partners. Sadly, violation of this is seen in women. In today’s world, 1/3 of young women are married before their 18s because of their region, parents, etc. Laws and public support are needed to overcome this issue.

 Unceasingly, reproductive health claims a healthy reproductive system and healthy pregnancies. It is essential for people to take care of the reproductive system. To give an illustration, obstetric fistula occurs in women due to lack of proper care – regrettably 65% of women having obstetric fistula are adolescences. Another term ‘‘reproductive rights’’ states that you can decide if and when to have children. For instance, most people around the world do not want to have children anymore. As a matter of fact, there are nearly 230 million women who want to delay or stop having children.   

When it comes to HIV, it is a disease in which a virus attacks the immune system. It came from a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa – SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus). If it is not treated, it could lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV transmits through sharing needles, or syringes, or from mother to child, less likely to happen, and sexual interactions. Currently, there are 26 million people living with HIV in the African Region – the percentage of patients is higher in the particularly young generation. There is no current effective cure yet. Once people get it, they have to live with it for life. However, it can be controlled with proper health care. Further ways to prevent HIV are protecting yourself during sexual interactions, and being careful during injecting drugs.

When it comes to thinking of ending HIV without SRHR, it seems that it is nearly impossible – and it is. Even though we have not had any effective cure for that issue, we know the fact that if it is not treated with proper health care, it could cause AIDS – which is worse. It is always better to protect yourself in terms of sexual interactions, etc. Note that ending HIV through finding effective treatments will always be under SRHR.

About the author

I am Ahmet Kayhan KORKUSUZ, a first-year medical student at Istanbul Medipol University, Turkey. I am affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations. Also, an active member of TurkMSIC, and EMSA in Turkey. I have always believed that Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability. Throughout medicine, I want to see what others could not see. Academically, I am interested in physiology and cardiology. I am of the opinion that a good person is the one who has the key to making people feel better.

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