Cultural and Contextual Impacts
Cultural practices, poverty and other structural factors are all crosscutting issues that must be recognized when addressing sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and young people.
Parents and families
Studies have repeatedly shown that parents positive health seeking behaviours and attitudes have and impact on their children. This also relates to acceptance of sexuality education and uptake of HIV testing or contraceptives. In many faith-based cultures, values such as centrality of the family, life affirming approaches and solidarity. Faith-based approaches in the response to HIV have demonstrated considerable power, innovation and value. They can make a decisive difference in removing barriers to better health and education outcomes for adolescents and young people in the region.
Stigma, discrimination and criminalization
There are many fears, prejudices and negative attitudes towards HIV. Stigma can result in people with HIV being insulted, rejected, gossiped about and excluded from social activities. Fear of this happening can lead to people with HIV being nervous about telling others that they have HIV or avoiding contact with other people. They may end up suffering in silence instead of getting the help they need.
Stigma can also result in people with HIV believing the things that other people say about HIV. For example, they may think it’s true that HIV is a death sentence or that most people with HIV are immoral or irresponsible.
Young people living with HIV in the region face a number of challenges related to HIV stigma and discrimination. These include lack of access to sexual reproductive health services including HIV treatment and breaches of confidentiality within the health and education sectors.
In addition, stigma towards vulnerable populations is prevalent in the region, populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM), lesbian, gay, transgender or otherwise gender non-conforming (LGBTI), sexually exploited young people or youth who use drugs. This creates barriers to improving sexual and reproductive health services and efforts in decreasing the risk of HIV infections. This population requires unique responses from both health and education to protect their rights as young people.