SRHR the indispensable ally in ending HIV

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Gubeanthrey Janaky Raman is from Malaysia and currently a final year medical student at Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh. She 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.


Despite having emerged decades earlier, the 1980’s witnessed the tumultuous outbreak of HIV and by the end of the year, every region in the world had reported at least one case of AIDS. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) today, more than 70 million people have been infected with HIV and about 35 million have died from AIDS since the beginning of the global epidemic. 

HIV/AIDS became the epicentre of the world and a massive shift in focus occurred due to the fatal magnitude of the condition. Abundant initiatives for the HIV/AIDS cause have since been engineered and brought into effect. In spite of that, the question remains in relation to why the pursuit to end HIV/AIDS continues to be slow and uneventful.  

It is in these circumstances, the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) sector and HIV/AIDS appear to be contenders in the global competition for resources and attention as if one could be achieved without the other. It is ironic to expect significant progress and impact will be made in fighting HIV/AIDS where there is a rift between SRHR and HIV/AIDS work.

The fight of HIV/AIDS is encompassed in the very crux of SRHR. The stigma and discrimination that surrounds HIV/AIDS  is reason enough that only through SRHR this epidemic can see its end. What was once coined as the “gay plague” now is recognized as a disease that does not discriminate in age, sex, gender identity,  race, religion, social nor wealth status. Granted there are medical advances to end AIDS, the real fight is to eliminate stigma and discrimination against HIV/AIDS and that is the only way we will ever be close to being a HIV/AIDS free world. 

SRHR bears the potential to uproot gender inequalities, patriarchal norms, social injustices among many other obstacles that hinder us from reaching the common goal of ending HIV/AIDS. In every public health system, SRHR designates an avenue for ethical and undiscriminating conversations through which every individual that experiences it, especially seropositive individuals, will be encouraged to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights in the absence of fear and prejudice. The impact that will follow, not only will reduce the rate of  transmission and new HIV cases but also allow seropositive individuals to lead a wholesome lifestyle encompassing their sexual and reproductive health goals. 

The form of empowerment that SRHR provides through cultivating gender equality, investing in quality sexuality education and elevating measures to end stigma, discrimination and violence directed towards HIV/AIDS and at the people living with it will be an expedient in the initiative to end HIV/AIDS. Bearing that in mind, the discrepancy between the SRHR sector and HIV/AIDS work must be minimized as much as illuminated to show the cardinal relationship both fields share. By doing so, an integral and potent response to HIV/AIDS can be prompted which would be crucial in eradicating the public health threat that is the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

About the author

Gubeanthrey Janaky Raman is from Malaysia and currently a final year medical student at Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh. She is also the local officer for the Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV and AIDS (SCORA) under Bangladesh Medical Students’ Society (BMSS) which is the NMO under IFMSA. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine incorporating her passion for writing and journalism. She can be reached via gubeanthrey@gmail.com

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