ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

Over the years public health in Western countries has shifted its focus from sexual diseases to a broader consideration of sexual health driven by a concern over world population and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Increased interest in the social determinants of sexual health has reduced medical hegemony. Many research centers have included social and behavioral researchers working collaboratively with clinicians and epidemiologists in recognition that there needs to be a collective cross-disciplinary understanding of sexual health and how to achieve a sexually healthy population. In Australia a national sexual-health strategy is being developed based on an extant national HIV/AIDS strategy. The successive strategies supported multisectoral partnerships across government departments a multidisciplinary biomedical and social research agenda cooperation between clinicians and affected communities and involvement of the private sector. However an effective strategy will also need to include a realignment of existing welfare justice and education. Moreover a comprehensive sexual-health strategy will also have to recognize the impact of sexual globalization.
SEXUAL HEALTH: AUSTRALIA
III
S
ex and sexuality have
long occupied centre
stage in western dis-
course, yet until recently,
sexual health has been a
public-health Cinderella. If
attention was paid to sexual health, it was cast as a disease,
with a small band of medical specialists--venereologists in
particular--charting and attempting to reduce the
prevalence and incidence of sexually transmissible
infections (STIg). Meanwhile, sexologists, in the wake of
Richard von I4,rafft-Ebing, Henry Havelock Ellis, and
Alfred Kinsey, counted and recounted
the behaviours of sex, establishing
sexual "norms" and an ever-growing
list of deviant exceptions to them.
After World War II, there was a
shift to a broader consideration of
sexuality, in part driven by a concern
over world population growth.
Subsequently, we began to focus on
sexuality within the context of
women's and men's health--a result,
in part, of the development of second-
wave feminism and gay-liberation
politics. The move was exemplified in
the broadened agenda of the
International Conference on Popul-
ation and Development in 1994 (the
Cairo Conference). There, a new
approach to sexual and reproductive
health focused attention on previously
ignored and socially sensitive issues
such as gender relations, male
involvement in fertility, contraception
and abortion, and the sexual and
reproductive health needs of young
,pe0ple, including sex education.
An even bigger impetus for
broadening the sexual-health agenda
has come from the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Just as fertility
cannot be separated from women's and men's broader
sexual interests, HIV/AIDS cannot be seen merely as a
dangerous viral infection. The social, economic, and
cultural forces that frame people's lives powerfully
influence sex practices, sexual cultures, and individual and
group responses to preventive-health messages. For
example, to understand why young women use condoms
less frequently with casual than with regular male partners,
we need to take into account the dynamics of gender and
power. If we want to understand why young men are
encouraged to seek sexual experience (whereas young
women remain virgins), we need to consider how historical
and social forces produce and sustain this difference in the
face of HIV/AIDS and STIs. Similarly, we now know that
the western classification of the "homosexual" as a type of
person is not easily transferred to most less-developed
countries (even if the same sexual practices occur). This
has challenged western science's culturally bound
sexological categories and forced recognition that sexual
health, in this instance, is not merely about correcting
sexual "pathology".
The increased interest in the social determinants of
sexual health has reduced medical hegemony in this area.
Many research centres now have social and behavioural
researchers working collaboratively with clinicians and
epidemiologists, in recognition that there needs to be a
The changing perceptions of
collective
cross-disciplinary
understanding of sexual health
and
|_mJL__
sex
sexuality
and how to achieve a sexually
healthy population. In pursuing
Doroon Rosenthal, Gary Oowsett this goal, Australia (like the
Teaching about sexual health
Cover of a booklet distributed to Australian
adolescents.
UK) is now developing a
national sexual-health strategy. However, the Australian
strategy is based on an extant national HIV/AIDS strategy,
which is currently in its fourth version. Since Australia's
first strategy was produced in 1989, we have learned a
great deal about collaborative partnerships between
government, communities, researchers, and those with a
legitimate voice, including people
living with HIV infection and AIDS.
There has also been a balance
between resources spent on treatment
of illness and disease, and that spent
on prevention and health promotion.
The successive strategies supported
multisectoral parmerships across
government departments, a multi-
disciplinary biomedical and social
research agenda, cooperation between
clinicians and affected communities,
and involvement of the private sector.
The success of Australia's HIV/AIDS
strategies has prompted the
application of similar principles to the
development of a national sexual-
health strategy. An effective strategy
will need to include the health sector
and a realignment of existing
resources, but also welfare, justice,
and education. For example, it must
grapple with the sensitive issue of sex
education in schools. Despite sub-
stantial evidence for the positive
effects of sex education, there is still
some reluctance to grasp this
particular nettle. Or, if sex education
is introduced, the emphasis is on abstinence (as in the
USA) rather than harm reduction, despite compelling
evidence that many young people are sexually active by
their early teens and express strong ownership of their
sexual interests.
Finally, a comprehensive
have to take into account
not only the culturally
sensitive concepts of sex and
sexuality, but also recognise
the impact of sexual global-
isation. By this we mean
that today's sexual reality
includes frequent and
readily shared images of sex
via the intemet, music
videos, films, magazines,
and so on. Sex is not just
socially produced--social
life is increasingly sexual. ~
While the rapid spread of
drug-resistant STIs and
HIV threatens to refocus,
attention on diseases, a
return to a narrow
biomedical vision will not
enhance sexual health.
sexual-health strategy will
The Lancet Perspectives ° 356 December ° 2000 s58
... Consequently, variability in the sexual health status and behaviours of ethnic young people cannot be assessed. [2][3][4][5] Clearly, the sexual and reproductive development and health of young people are important global health concerns, 6 and although its importance is widely acknowledged in contemporary research, [6][7][8][9][10][11] research centres primarily on young people's sexual activity, 8,[12][13][14][15] unsafe sexual practices and the potential outcomes of risk-taking behaviour (such as STI and teenage pregnancies), 1,7,9 and sex education. 7 A biomedical perspective underpins this body of work to the exclusion of the relevance of prevailing social factors and processes, thus effectively denying the importance of socially informed inquiry. ...
... 7 A biomedical perspective underpins this body of work to the exclusion of the relevance of prevailing social factors and processes, thus effectively denying the importance of socially informed inquiry. 11 It has been argued that a comprehensive sexual health strategy, involving medical, social, cultural, gendered and age-specific aspects, is needed to ensure that the global population receives and maintains optimum sexual and reproductive health. 11 As part of a wider study, we sought to help fill this void by exploring the factors that can impact on and influence the sexual behaviour of young women in Australia with a specific cultural heritage. ...
... 11 It has been argued that a comprehensive sexual health strategy, involving medical, social, cultural, gendered and age-specific aspects, is needed to ensure that the global population receives and maintains optimum sexual and reproductive health. 11 As part of a wider study, we sought to help fill this void by exploring the factors that can impact on and influence the sexual behaviour of young women in Australia with a specific cultural heritage. In the present paper, the terms 'young people' and 'young women' are used to denote those aged 18 to 25 years. ...
Article
Full-text available
The present paper discusses the impact the traditional Vietnamese culture has on the uptake of mainstream health services for sexual health matters by Vietnamese Australian young women. It is part of a wider qualitative study that explored the factors that shaped the sexual behaviour of Vietnamese Australian young women living in Australia. A Grounded Theory methodology was used, involving in-depth interviews with 15 Vietnamese Australian young women aged 18 to 25 years who reside in Victoria, Australia. The findings demonstrated that the ethnicity of the general practitioner had a clear impact on the women utilising the health service. They perceived that a Vietnamese doctor would hold the traditional view of sex as held by their parents' generation. They rationalised that due to cultural mores, optimum sexual health care could only be achieved with a non-Vietnamese health professional. It is evident from the present study that cultural influences can impact on the sexual health of young people from culturally diverse backgrounds and in Australia's multicultural society, provision of sexual health services must acknowledge the specific needs of ethnically diverse young people.
Article
Background: The purpose of this study was to gain insights into the perceptions and attitudes about teen pregnancy among high school students in a rural area with high teen pregnancy rates. Methods: Five focus groups were conducted with: (1) females in 9th—10th grades; (2) females in 11th—12th grades; (3) males in 9th—10th grades; (4) males in 11th—12th grades; and (5) pregnant/parenting females in 9th—12th grades. Results: Common themes among the students were that: (1) the number of teen pregnancies was increasing and was a growing concern; (2) financial difficulties and harm to education were associated with teen pregnancies; (3) teen females had many reasons for wanting a baby, but teen males just wanted to have sex; and (4) pregnancy happened by chance, or was simply an inadvertent consequence of having sex. Conclusions: To reduce teen pregnancy, the developmental asset model offers community members, teachers and parents guidelines to work together to develop key assets in youth that may protect against risky sexual behaviours.
Article
Full-text available
Hægt er að lesa greinina í heild sinni með því að smella á hlekkinn View/Open The purpose of this article is to explore the importance for Icelandic community to form a policy regarding sexual health. There is a need for such policy in this country as elsewhere in order to promote sexual health of people and prevent various problems in this field. Nationally there is especially a need for such policy regarding sexual health of adolescents whereas they start early to have sexual intercourse and pregnancy rates are considerably higher among Icelandic adolescents compared to the other Nordic countries. Furthermore, this is a vulnerable group which is influenced by the environment and may encounter troubles dealing with situations because of immaturity. Many neighbouring countries have been forming a sexual health policy for the new millennium. The World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization have in their policy emphasized a sexually healthy society which is based on multifocal preventive and health promoting efforts. The implementation of such a program is important in order to solve the imminent problems regarding sexual- and reproductive health in contemporary society. Nurses as well as others have an important role in this preventive and health promoting effort. Tilgangur þessarar greinar er að skoða mikilvægi þess fyrir íslenskt samfélag að marka sér stefnu í kynheilbrigðismálum. Þörf er á slíkri stefnu hér á landi sem annars staðar til að stuðla að kynheilbrigði fólks og fyrirbyggja margvísleg vandamál á þessu sviði. Einkum er lögð áhersla á mikilvægi slíkrar stefnumótunar varðandi kynheilbrigðismál unglinga hér á landi þar sem þeir byrja snemma að hafa kynmök og þungunartíðni er nokkuð hærri meðal íslenskra unglinga en á hinum Norðurlöndunum. Jafnframt er um viðkvæman hóp að ræða sem verður fyrir margvíslegum áhrifum frá umhverfinu og getur átt í erfiðleikum með að ná tökum á aðstæðum vegna þroskaleysis. Ýmsar nágrannaþjóðir hafa verið að marka sér stefnu um kynheilbrigðismál fyrir nýja öld. Alþjóðaheilbrigðismálastofnunin og Pan American-heilbrigðisstofnunin hafa í sinni stefnumótun lagt áherslu á kynferðislega heilbrigt samfélag þar sem fjölþættar aðferðir til forvarna og heilsueflingar eru lagðar til grundvallar. Mikilvægt er að takast á við þann vanda sem við blasir varðandi kynheilbrigðismál í nútímasamfélagi. Hjúkrunarfræðingar og aðrir hafa mikilvægu hlutverki að gegna í þessu forvarnar- og heilsueflingarstarfi.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.