Addressing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, in the context of sexual health
AbstractSexually transmitted infections (STIs) have occupied a central place in public health agendas for at least the past 500 years, but have been the subject of opinions, decrees and moral positions for much longer. Societies have long tried to control the sexual behaviors of their populations, not only for reasons of social control, but also with the objective of controlling the spread of diseaseHIV is the latest example of how societies respond to infections spread through the most private of individual behaviors. The article outlines the burden of disease associated with sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and explores their impact on efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A large number of options for prevention and care of the sexually transmitted infections and HIV are currently available in both resource-rich and resource-constrained settings. In this article I move beyond the narrow focus of biomedical interventions concentrated on the individual and explore the evidence for public health measures aimed at controlling these infections. Using a public health framework I outline the various measures that can be implemented for STI/HIV control, and in addition to exploring the evidence for their public health effectiveness, I also look at how each of these interventions can be delivered within a paradigm of sexual health more generally. Finally, the article proposes recommendations for which effective strategies should be incorporated into a broader framework for promoting sexual health.