Can sexual intercourse while standing up prevent pregnancy or the transmission of HIV/AIDS?
While the answer is an emphatic `No!`, Abubakar Dungus, Communications Specialist with the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, says many young people across the world hold firmly to these sexual myths which erode efforts in the global fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS.
Dungus, an international expert on population and development issues, says these myths are not just found in Africa, but across the world. He also noted that to this day, people are still worried that HIV can be transmitted by shaking hands. He said such myths have to be confronted and “knocked out” early.
In certain parts of the world, including the Caribbean, many older men seek sex with younger girls in the belief that they are less likely to be infected with HIV, or, more ominously, in the dangerous myth that sex with a virgin is a cure for HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections.
“Young people, and older ones too, need to learn the truth,” says Hetty Sarjeant, UNFPA Representative for the English and Dutch Speaking Caribbean.
She suggested that young people can play a key role in dispelling myths and empowering themselves about adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues. “We need more programmes designed by and for youth since the rights of young people and their capacity to make decisions for themselves are often unrecognised and undervalued,” she commented.
UNFPA maintains that neglect and under-funding of programmes enabling young people to avoid unwanted pregnancy, unsafe childbirth and sexually transmitted infections are spreading HIV/AIDS and undermining development in the Caribbean.
UNFPA’s Caribbean office is working with regional reporters and editors to highlight these issues, through next month`s staging of the 2003 Caribbean Media Awards in Jamaica on “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights”.
A total of US$6,000 in cash prizes, airline tickets and hotel stays are at stake for reports on curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, early initiation of sexual activity, fostering behavioural change, promoting gender equality, sexual exploitation (including sex tourism) and population, poverty reduction and sustainable development.
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