Dr Eve

The right to sex

2004-09-09 07:55

Do people with HIV/Aids in South Africa have the right to be sexual?

That may seem a pretty outrageous question given our HIV statistics, but let's try to consider this question from the perspective of someone who is HIV positive, or has Aids.

Having unprotected sex in South Africa will leave you with a pretty good chance of becoming HIV+. Being HIV+ means you have a terminal illness. Having a terminal illness is about death, not sex.

If you are HIV+ and feel sexy, where, how and with whom do you express your sexiness?

What a conundrum for the many positive people in our country.

Considering that the majority of newly infected people are young adults between the ages of 16 and 25. (Does anyone out there still believe that teenage boys and girls only want romance and love?)

This has to be the horniest age for us as humans, ruled as we are ruled by the flood of testosterone and oestrogen at this stage of our lives.

Don't tell these young adults to abstain, wear condoms or be faithful.

The Government has adopted this ABC policy and we see the results of this naivety and ignorance in all the figures on new transmissions.

One thing we do know for sure is that all people, in their own way, want to be sexual. Even infected people.

Historically much public money, effort and time has been spent trying to control people's sexual behaviour.

How can people infected with a sexually transmitted disease, such as HIV/Aids, overcome the stigma and claim the right to be sexual in a 'sex-negative' society such as ours ?

I believe the first thing we have to do is accept that being positive does not take away sexual desire.

In fact research that assesses sexual dysfunction in HIV+ people has shown that the main inhibiting factor to their desire is the unavailability of a partner and the inability to ask a partner to put on a condom.

No lack of want and lust here!

Teaching all people the 3 R's of sexuality - Rights, Responsibilities and Rewards, will fare better than teaching them the ABC.

Until we know we have the right as well as an obligation to take responsibility for our sexual health and sexual pleasure we will continue to become infected.

Scream it from the mountains, people - "I love being sexual and I will take responsibility for my safety and pleasure".

It certainly sounds sweeter than the usual bedroom silence or the sound of morning-after regret.

Let each of us embrace rewarding, responsible adult sexuality.

Positive, negative, status unknown, it is your right, and your responsibility

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