Sexual health is a right that must be guaranteed throughout life, from adolescence to old age. And it doesn’t just mean having safe relationships, avoiding the transmission of infections, which amount to about one million a year worldwide, with a sharply increasing trend also in Italy where a strong growth in cases has been reported in the last 10 years, but also have healthy and fully consensual sexual relationships. This was remembered by the World Health Organization, on the occasion of the international day of 4 September, promoted by the World Association for Sexual Health.
From syphilis to HIV through chlamydia, gonorrhea and papilloma virus, unprotected sex is a vehicle for diseases that can lead to chronic infections and long-term complications. As far as Italy is concerned, the sentinel surveillance system coordinated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità reported 151,384 new cases of infections from 1991 to 2021, with a constant increase starting from 2005 and a slowdown in 2020 due to the emergency Covid. And the most affected group is between 15 and 24 years.
“The significant increase that we have observed in Italy in the last decade, especially among young people – explains Barbara Suligoi, head of the IST surveillance system of the ISS – indicates the poor awareness and insufficient information of the citizen. diagnosed are condylomas: they are caused by the human papilloma virus and are therefore preventable by anti-HPV vaccination, which also prevents various anogenital cancers.Most of these infections are curable if diagnosed and treated promptly.But, in the absence of treatment, the risk of serious consequences after some time is high: problems during pregnancy, infertility and tumors. For this reason it is important to seek medical attention promptly and in the presence of any genital disorder”. Often these infections can remain asymptomatic for a long time, but they can be prevented “by using the condom and avoiding unprotected intercourse with partners whose health status is unknown”, adds Suligoi.
However, sexual health also means something else for the World Health Organization: “it is a right” and “it is part of a normal and healthy life”. A concept also included in the latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases, which for the first time contains a chapter on sexual health. “There has been a lot of effort so far on disease prevention, without recognizing that safe sex also means promoting intimacy, pleasure, consent and well-being,” said Lianne Gonsalves, of WHO’s special program dedicated to the topic. .
However, many women and girls continue to suffer non-consensual and violent relationships. “The right to sexual health – recalls the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – is denied when sex is shrouded in shame and ignorance, or linked to coercion, abuse or exploitation”, but also when there is no access to contraception. For this reason, World Sexual Health Day this year highlights the importance of consent (#Consent), making it the claim of the initiative. “Consent is a crucial element of any healthy sexual encounter, and we need to educate ourselves and others about what that means,” writes the World Association for Sexual Health. This also involves “respecting everyone’s choices on the subject, regardless of gender and orientation”.
breaking latest news © Copyright ANSA