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Pleasure and Prevention – When Good Sex is Safer Sex

Pleasure and Prevention – When Good Sex is Safer Sex

Disease, death and other adverse outcomes of sexual
and intimate relationships remain the main focus for
medical and public health interventions, despite the
lack of evidence for these policy’s effectiveness. Against
this largely sex negative and pessimistic backdrop there
have been disappointing gains in the practice and
investment in prevention and safer sex. However limited
but robust evidence has shown the effectiveness of
sex positive or pleasure inclusive sex education to
change both intent and reported practise of safer sex.
The emphasis on risk and denial of pleasure in sex
education has broader impacts beyond physical sexual
health, and can confirm sexual stereotypes of women
as a reproductive risk and men and predators for pleasurable
gain. However an emphasis on sexual rights,
consent and empowered comprehensive sex education
can have broader impacts such as enhanced sexual selfesteem,
which in itself leads to more healthy choices.
Given that unsafe sex is the largest risk factor for the
death of young women globally, and the second largest
for young men, there should be all efforts and resources
placed by the public health community on interventions
which show promise, are evidence based and
relevant to people’s lives and motivations. Pleasure is
arguably the principle motivator for sexual behaviour
globally, can be a key driver within effective sexual
health interventions and also allows for broader dialogues
with a positive vision of relationships. Pleasure
inclusive approaches are gaining in popularity in the
public health world, with some innovative and inspiring
examples globally, now is the time to measure their
collective impact and ensure that pleasure, bodily integrity
and well-being as seen as key elements of sex and
sexuality education and programmes as a way to
improve both sexual health and people’s sexual
Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Statement: None

Speakers: Anne Philpott