Addis Ababa, December 07, 2011 - A Session on Youth Sexual Rights brought to light the sexual rights of youths living with HIV and AIDS. In an interactive session, participants reflected their perception of what sexual rights are and who they think should have sexual rights. Participants' take on sexual rights were expressed with words such as choice, right to sex, sexual orientation, non-discrimination, equality etc. while almost all unanimously responded that sexual rights are for everyone.
Set up around a tool kit on reproductive health rights and general wellbeing that the youths from around the world developed and produced, triggered a lively discussion on several questions posed to participants based on their experiences.
Some of the comments include having the right to marry not only to HIV positive persons but also HIV negative ones, non-disclosure of status before going steady with partners, opting to be single or not, once diagnosed with HIV. Above all, participants had a heated debate on the ethics of pressured disclosure of HIV status before having any sexual relations.
Some argued that those who may be negative also have the right to health and should have the right to decide whether or not to continue having sexual relations as condoms do not provide 100% protection against HIV transmission, whereas others debated that pressures and laws on forced disclosure increase stigma and discrimination and discourage people from getting tested, something we should collectively fight against.
No consensus was reached, however it was noted that 'as sexual rights are based on human rights, proponents hold that young people have the right to have relations with HIV negative persons, the right not to disclose their HIV status and the right to choose their sexual orientation,' a principle not everyone agreed with. The debate remains ongoing.