SEX & SEXUALITY: The Secret around HIV/AIDS Transmission
The word sex is straightforward and easy to understand: it is the act of sexual intercourse. Also, the word can indicate the biological distinction between two sexes: every human being has sex, either male or female.
Sexuality, on the other hand, is an abstract concept and therefore much more difficult to understand. To complicate matter further, there is no word in any language that translates directly as “sexuality.”
Sexuality is an integrated part of every individual’s personality. It is a source of intimacy and pleasure. Our deepest feelings for other people, our fantasies, our feelings about our bodies and our sensual pleasures are all part of our personalities and our sexualities. Sexuality is how we communicate our masculinity or femininity, and it is manifested in our desire to form intimate relationships.
From birth to death we are all sexual beings, whether we are sexually active or not. We are sexual beings whether we are comfortable with our sexuality or not. During adolescence, hormones become very active and urge to engage
in sexual activities (not limited to sexual intercourse) emerge forcefully for the first time.
But is important to remember that we are all still sexual beings in childhood before sexual urges manifest themselves and after they diminish during old age.
Unfortunately, there is much shame and embarrassment preventing discussion of sexuality. In fact, sexuality is the most natural thing in the world, a force that affects each and every one of us every moment of our lives.
In part the shame and embarrassment is a result of the confusion between sex and sexuality. Also, some people believe that talking about sex and sexuality will encourage young people to be more sexually active.
However, with the presence of AIDS epidemic, the silence surrounding sexuality becomes dangerous. HIV can be transmitted through non-sexual contact. But the fact is that the most cases of HIV are contracted through unprotected sexually activities. This in turn contributes to the shame and silence surrounding HIV and AIDS. The onset of sexual urges during adolescence combined with a lack of necessary information makes today’s young people especially vulnerable to the disease.
Sexual urges- At any age are not something to be denied or overcome or conquered. They are completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. When parents insist that youth abstain from sex, this implies that their sexual urges are dirty and immoral. When parents refuse to answer their children’s questions about their bodies and feelings, this teaches children that their sexuality is something to hide and reject. Adolescents have to learn how to explore and express their new found sexual urges; but if parents are silent and too strict, adolescents risk developing unsafe outlet for their sexual feelings.
Too often parents view their children’s emerging sexuality with alarm, imposing their own shame and embarrassment on completely innocent questions or actions. For example, if a young girl shows interest in the neighbors’ boy might panic and suspect sexual intercourse, whereas the young girl probably just thinks of holdings hands and may be kissing.
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