Tag Archives: HIV/AIDS

Sex Ed Not Intended for Adolescents with Physical Disabilities?

10 May

There are already numerous problems with sex ed in schools: abstinence-only, heteronormative, penis-centered, etc, but what about adolescents who don’t even receive sex ed because of their ability? When discussing asexuality, one of the main themes that comes up is disability and asexuality, specifically assuming that people with disabilities are asexual and either can’t find anyone who would be interested in them or simply do not have sexual desires. Recognizing that there are people with disabilities who are also asexual, these general assumptions are completely invalid and unfair to those who actually are sexual, especially when it comes to learning about safer sex practices and techniques.

Two articles I found look at this issue of completely disregarding adolescents with physical disabilities in these conversations and academic programs focused on safer sex practices. Both articles, “The sexual behavior of physically disabled adolescents,” by Maart and Jelsma and “Should issues of sexuality and HIV and AIDS be a rehabilitation concern? The voices of young South Africans with physical disabilities,” by Wazakili, Mpofu, and Devlieger, look at how adolescents with disabilities are often deprived from learning about safer sex measures and their risk for contracting HIV. Maart and Jelsma’s study examines risky sexual behavior in adolescents by comparing sexual behavior of adolescents with physical disabilities to those without and work to disprove claims that adolescents with disabilities are not at risk for HIV infection, which is a common misconception around the world. Stemming from this misconception, Wazakili et al. interview adolescents with disabilities about their rehabilitation process and specifically, how sex education was missing; even further, these adolescents admitted to knowing about HIV and AIDS issues, but not being influenced to take preventative measures against contracting HIV infection.

Again, this issue of people with disabilities being deems asexual comes up; this recurring problem needs to be addressed, especially with rehabilitation, in order to educate people to combat HIV infection and other STI’s and unwanted complications associated with unprotected sex.

Sources: Maart and Jelsma.The sexual behavior of physically disabled adolescents, Disability and Rehabilitation (2010); 32(6): 438-443
Wazakili, Mpofu, and Devlieger. Should issues of sexuality and HIV and AIDS be a rehabilitation concern? The voices of young South Africans with physical disabilities (2009), Disability and Rehabilitation, 31 (1): 32-41

Photo credit to http://thecsph.org/ 
Post by Kelsey Nelson
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