Feel no shame, change the game

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Naheed Khan, an aspiring first year medical student studying in N.K.P. Salve institute of medical sciences, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India. 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.


People with HIV, before the emergence of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), have not only been marginalised and sidelined but also looked down upon by society. Due to lack of access to contraception and absolutely no knowledge about safe sexual practices, the number of HIV cases increased manifold. In certain countries, even today, discussing anything even remotely related to sexual and reproductive health is considered a taboo and it is in these places that people fear seeking advice about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or  buying/using contraceptives. With the help of SRHR, people have started discussing and talking about sexual and reproductive health.

Sexual and reproductive health can be achieved by realising the sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR). It is a channel through which a person is made aware of the recent developments in the field of SRHR. SRHR helps recognise inequalities that persist in society and gives people the power to face and fight them with pride and be comfortable in their own skin. SRHR provides access to contraception, safe and legal abortion, high-quality sex education, being able to afford birth control pills and to have control over your own body. High-quality sex education and easy access to contraceptives only reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Out of all the sexually transmitted diseases, HIV is the most lethal sexually transmitted infection and lack of access to basic sexual and reproductive health and rights increases the person’s risk of contracting it.

Apart from the sexual route, HIV can spread from the mother to the child during pregnancy, birth or breast feeding, if the mother is infected. HIV is preventable with adequate treatment and care and it seems fair to say that SRHR is the key to preventing HIV. Increasing awareness among people especially adolescents about HIV, various contraceptives, STIs, and proper and mandatory use of condoms will help prevent new HIV cases. A lot of research has been done on SRHR-HIV linkages and the results point only in the positive direction . According to WHO, SRHR-HIV linkages have resulted in better HIV testing outcomes, increased and consistent usage of condoms, improved quality of healthcare, decreased HIV related stigma and discrimination and improved access to and utilisation of both SRHR and HIV services.

References

  1. https://frontlineaids.org/were-on-the-frontline-of/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights/
  2. http://srhr.org/
  3. https://www.who.int/pmnch/activities/sexual_reproductive_health_rights/en/
  4. https://plan-international.org/un/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights-srhr

About the author

Ms Naheed Khan is an aspiring first year medical student studying in N.K.P. Salve institute of medical sciences, Nagpur,Maharashtra,India. She aspires to deepen her knowledge in OBGYN in the future. She believes that increasing awareness about SRHR could prove to be a boon in reducing STIs and giving the people the power to face the discrimination without it affecting them. Apart from being a medical student she’s a tennis fanatic.

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