Sex education: the application of sexual and reproductive rights in the fight against HIV

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rebeca Feitosa Dória Alves and Renata Carvalho Almeida, currently two third year medical student at Universidade Tiradentes, in Aracaju/Sergipe, Brazil. They are 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 writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Sexual rights refer to the free expression and experience of sexuality without violence, discrimination and impositions and with full respect for the partner’s body. In addition, it guarantees the right to sexual health, which requires access to all types of information, education and confidential high-quality services on sexuality and sexual health. Reproductive rights, on the other hand, comprise the basic right of every couple and individual to decide freely and responsibly on the number, the spacing and the opportunity to have children and to have the information and the means to do so. Sexual and reproductive rights are a means of building good sexual health, but, unfortunately, they are not widely known and applied to everyone. The information is unevenly distributed globally, reflecting alarming data on the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, especially HIV.

     According to the 2019 Epidemiological Bulletin of HIV/AIDS in Brazil, the highest concentration of AIDS cases in the country was between the ages of 25 and 39, that is, people of reproductive age. Minority groups such as LGBTQI + and black women are also vulnerable. Therefore, the correlation between social roles and sexual education is evident, which is the link between sexual and reproductive rights and HIV.

       It is known that, throughout the history of HIV infections, there was a stigma about the disease due to the context of associated sexual behavior. Chronologically, the taboo has been broken and sexuality has become the subject of academic tables, facilitating communication about the exercise of sexual desires and protection against sexually transmitted infections. Thus, the conception of sexuality and reproducibility is consolidated as fields permeated by rights and self-knowledge.

      Sexual and reproductive rights promote freedom from sexual practice, with respected choices of diversity and privacy, and guide healthy sexuality behavior. These rights will often act through public policies, which will offer information and protection against sexual discrimination. In Brazil, condoms are distributed and access to HIV pre and post sexual exposure prophylaxis free of charge through the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), a public health service network. In addition, SUS offers antiretroviral treatment, which enables a reduction in the mortality rate and an increase in the quality of life of HIV + patients.

    Autonomous sexual practices require responsibility to know their own bodies and to promote sexual and reproductive health in the situations experienced. From this, it is possible to understand the relationship between rights and the fight to end HIV. Sexual and reproductive behavior goes beyond the biological character. That is why sexual and reproductive rights are so necessary: ​​they, included in human rights, are intrinsic to everyone, who can enjoy a free expression of their sexuality and dominance over their own bodies, without judgment. For sexual and reproductive rights to reach more groups, social institutions will play a big role. Schools, political organizations and the media must discuss sexual rights in order to reach the most diverse groups. Understanding the social situation surrounding sexual practice will be a tool for HIV control.

About the author

Rebeca Feitosa Dória Alves and Renata Carvalho Almeida are currently a third year medical student at Universidade Tiradentes, in Aracaju/Sergipe, Brazil. They are members of the International Federation of Medical Students Association in Brazil (IFMSA-BRAZIL) and believe that sex education and and the application of sexual and reproductive rights can positively transform HIV statistics.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Climate action ‘both a priority and a driver of the decade’: Guterres

Finland is a world leader in clean energy. Here’s what’s driving its success

Trump’s Russophiles under investigation, Europe remains ‘en garde’

Syria war: executions condemned as violence continues ‘on both sides’ of border with Turkey

Now is the time to seize ‘unprecedented opportunity’ of the Sustainable Development Forum, says ECOSOC President

Afghanistan extends ceasefire with Taliban; UN urges both sides to work towards lasting peace

EU and China in search of a win-win agreement through strategic cooperation ahead of the EU-China summit

‘Wind blowing in the direction of peace’ in Africa: UN Secretary-General

Harnessing the power of nature in the fight against climate change

Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament should ask Council to act, say committee MEPs

COP25: ‘Signals of hope’ multiplying in face of global climate crisis, insists UN chief Guterres

Council Presidency: Floundering with the EU 2014 budget

EU Banks still get subsidies from impoverished citizens

Century challenge: inclusion of immigrants in the health system

State aid: Commission approves €53 million public support scheme for charging stations for low emission vehicles in Romania

Is China about to launch its own cryptocurrency?

European Health Union: Commission publishes open public consultation on the European Health Data Space

Trade preferences boost developing countries’ exports to the European Union

These are New York Public Library’s 10 most borrowed books

Bank resolutions to remain a politically influenced affair

China in my eyes

5 charts that show renewable energy’s latest milestone

Making the move to more sustainable mobility – three steps for companies

This young activist explains how to change the world in 3 steps

Hungary’s emergency measures: MEPs ask EU to impose sanctions and stop payments

Telemedicine: union when the rule is isolation

International partners pledge $1.2 billion to help cyclone-hit Mozambique recover, ‘build back better’

Vulnerable young people must not be blamed & stigmatised for violent radicalisation

Scotland wants to create an ethical stock exchange (Post Brexit)

Addressing the Challenges of COVID-19 Vaccination

The future of the plastics industry is green

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

Human rights breaches in Guinea Conakry and Madagascar

Art, mental health and suicide: different strategies for increasing access to health services

As human genome editing moves from the lab to the clinic, the ethical debate is no longer hypothetical

How debt for climate swaps could spur a green recovery

The UN’s unyielding effort to tackle sexual abuse and exploitation: our quarterly update

Security Union: Significant progress and tangible results over past years but efforts must continue

Impact investing in Latin America and addressing the ‘missing middle’

Governments must take further action to boost job opportunities at an older age

EUREKA @ European Business Summit 2014: Innovation across borders – mobilising national R&D funds for transnational innovation in Europe

The world’s impact in a small Brazilian town and the increased demand for mental health

Long-term EU budget: The Union’s ambitions must be matched with sufficient reliable funding

Time to pay up: UN summit to push for development finance breakthrough

‘Great cause of concern’ UN chief tells Security Council, surveying ‘bleak’ state of civilian protection

How Islamic finance can build resilience to climate change

Further reforms in France can drive growth, improve public finances and boost social cohesion

The best companies to work for in 2020, according to Glassdoor

Countries must up their game to reduce low birth weights, warns UN-backed report

Libya: EU efforts should focus on protecting migrants, MEPs say

MWC2021 Launches New Initiative to Widen Access for Spanish Industry Professionals

One in three children do not get the nutrition they need

Largest joint UN humanitarian convoy of the war, reaches remote Syrian settlement

Is the EU denying its social character favouring a banking conglomerate?

Why the UN is investigating poverty in the United Kingdom

Sustainable fishing staying afloat in developed world, sinking in poorer regions

A comprehensive strategy for Eurozone’s long term growth gains momentum

Silk Road Unlimited

This is how Europe is helping companies and workers as the coronavirus crisis deepens

UN chief announces progress on committee to shape Syria’s political future

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s