International Review on access to SRHS by adolescents

1 March 2018

CAPRISA’s head of Ethics, Professor Jerome Singh, was a key contributor to a collaborative international review by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Southern African AIDS Trust, to assess the challenges that adolescents experience globally, in accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare services (SRHS). CAPRISA’s Faadiela Jogee and Samantha Chareka also contributed to the report.

     The review, The Age of Consent: Legal, Ethical, Cultural and Social Review Project, explored the ethical, social and cultural factors that impact adolescents in relation to: the age of consent for sex and sexual debut, adolescent sexuality, contraception and abortion, ART, PrEP, HIV counselling and testing (HCT). The review was undertaken in 11 countries globally. “The project lends itself to a broader initiative that endeavors to ignite social change and foster advocacy at national and international levels via UNICEF and UNAIDS’s ‘ALL IN’ initiative,” said Singh. The initiative strives to put an end to the AIDS epidemic in those most vulnerable to the disease, adolescents.

He said that the key findings included the average age of consent for sex and sexual debut globally is 16 years – however, there are exceptions with cultural and religious factors. HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination, the absence of adolescent-friendly youth services, and cultural and religious attitudes towards sexuality and gender are the principal factors that challenge adolescents’ access to SRHS, particularly contraception and HCT worldwide.

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