By Kate Hawkins
It can cause bleeding and discharge from the vagina, genital lesions, nodules in the vulva, discomfort and pain during sex, sub-fertility, miscarriage and can effect vulnerability to HIV and the Human Papilloma Virus. Yet it is completely off the radar of most people working on sexual and reproductive health and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
If you haven’t read our latest article on urogenital schistosomiasis in Open Democracy it is worth a look.
The World Health Organization’s working definition of sexual health is:
“…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”
We think that between 100 and 120 million people are living with urogenital schistosomiasis which is most likely causing damage to their urinary and reproductive systems. Why isn’t it on the radar of policy makers, activists and researchers? Why hasn’t more been done to explore the causes and the consequences of this illness?
Is it to do with a squeamishness when it comes to talking about sex and sexuality?
These are some questions that urgently need to be answered if we are serious about sexual health and rights for all.