Promoting Sexual Rights: The Key to Ending the AIDS Epidemic
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of five talented youth from four countries who had traveled to New York to participate in the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS. As we discussed their goals and the commitments they hoped governments would make towards ending the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, one clear priority emerged: sexual rights.
One of the advocates, a young man from Costa Rica, told me that talking about HIV and AIDS without addressing sexual rights is like “closing your eyes.” I couldn’t agree more.
The connection between sexual rights and HIV and AIDS is undeniable, with the majority of HIV infections transmitted sexually. Sexuality is a natural aspect of life, and a fundamental part of our humanity.
Too often, the world closes its eyes to this reality in creating and carrying out policies and programs. As a result, discrimination, stigma and inequality continue to compromise the ability of many to exercise choice in their sexual and reproductive lives and to safely express their own sexual identity—especially women and young people.