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Health and rights

Reproductive health
The Relationship between Female Genital Mutilation and HIV  Transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa
Posted: Feb 6, 2017
Category: Health and rights

The Relationship between Female Genital Mutilation and HIV Transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is an age-old practice that has since been linked with many health problems. This review aims to highlight some of the controversies trailing the relationship between FGM and HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. A literature search was conducted on the subject matter. This was done using articles published in English while limiting the geographical coverage to sub-Saharan Africa. Three themes were noted. These themes include: Direct causal link between FGM and HIV transmission; indirect causal link between FGM and HIV transmission and a negative or no association between FGM and HIV transmission. While many of the arguments are within scientific reasoning, the researches supporting the views seem to lack the necessary objectivity. This study underscored the need for a more objective lens in viewing and conducting research on the relationship between FGM and HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Female Genital Cutting and HIV Transmission: Is There an Association?
Posted: Feb 6, 2017
Category: Health and rights

Female Genital Cutting and HIV Transmission: Is There an Association?

Female Genital Cutting (FGC) refers to the practice of surgically removing all or part of the female external genitalia for non-medical purposes. It is a common practice in many countries in Africa, the Middle East, and to a lesser extent, Asia. Over 130 million women worldwide have undergone this procedure, and over 2 million women and girls are sub-ject to it every year. Various complications have been described, including infection, hemorrhage, genitourinary and obstetric complications, as well as psychological sequelae. Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, a few reports have also described a potentially elevated risk of HIV transmission among women with FGC. In this report, we aim to review the evidence and identify unanswered questions and research gaps regarding a potential association between FGC and HIV transmission.

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Providing comprehensive health services for young key populations: needs, barriers and gaps
Posted: Nov 18, 2016
Category: Adolescent youth friendly services

Providing comprehensive health services for young key populations: needs, barriers and gaps

Introduction: Adolescence is a time of physical, emotional and social transitions that have implications for health. In addition to being at high risk for HIV, young key populations (YKP) may experience other health problems attributable to high-risk behaviour or their developmental stage, or a combination of both.
Methods: We reviewed the needs, barriers and gaps for other non-HIV health services for YKP. We searched PubMed and Google Scholar for articles that provided specific age-related data on sexual and reproductive health; mental health; violence; and substance use problems for adolescent, youth or young sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people who inject drugs.
Results: YKP experience more unprotected sex, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, unintended pregnancy, violence, mental health disorders and substance use compared to older members of key populations and youth among the general population. YKP experience significant barriers to accessing care; coverage of services is low, largely because of stigma and discrimination experienced at both the health system and policy levels.
Discussion: YKP require comprehensive, integrated services that respond to their specific developmental needs, including health, educational and social services within the context of a human rights-based approach. The recent WHO Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care for Key Populations are an important first step for a more comprehensive approach to HIV programming for YKP, but there are limited data on the effective delivery of combined interventions for YKP. Significant investments in research and implementation will be required to ensure adequate provision and coverage of services for YKP. In addition, greater commitments to harm reduction and rights-based approaches are needed to address structural barriers to access to care.

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Advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women at risk of HIV
Posted: Oct 20, 2016
Category: AGYW Spotlight

Advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women at risk of HIV

Current approaches to HIV prevention typically target people who are identified as, or self-identify, with being at risk. In Africa, 74% of new HIV infections are among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years, and AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls and women of reproductive age.1 Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on developing and testing biomedical interventions to prevent HIV in women have not succeeded in reducing HIV incidence.

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Sexual and reproductive health needs of young people: Matching needs with systems
Posted: Aug 17, 2016
Category: Health and rights

Sexual and reproductive health needs of young people: Matching needs with systems

Access to services is a central concern surrounding the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people. A more holistic (so-called “positive”) approach toward SRHR is needed, as is provision of services that tackle sexual and gender-based violence, sexual diversity, discrimination, rela-tionship issues, and fears and concerns about sex and sexuality. Despite efforts to provide youth-friendly services, the uptake of services by young people is very low. What must be taken into account are young people’s pathways to seeking services; and the specific barriers they face before getting to the services, while receiving services, and after leaving the service delivery sites. Attention to the perceptions and needs of young people is essential, along with development of policies, services, and programs that address those needs, particularly the youth-friendly approach to service delivery.

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