Letter from the Chair in Sexual Health
Our world has changed significantly since our newsletter in mid-August. The financial crisis and recent elections both have the potential of positively and negatively affecting sexual health. A change in the administration brings new hope that we can shift the direction of sexual trends, especially among adolescents. The United States continues to have a higher rate of teen pregnancy than other industrialized nations, and people under the age of 25 account for approximately half of the new HIV infections. Globally we see a marked increase in HIV and STI infections among men who have sex with men and transgender individuals. Unfortunately, on Election Day we also witnessed resistance in California, Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas to the recognition of fundamental sexual rights for many same sex couples and families. We remain a sexually unhealthy culture. At PHS we look forward to our new leadership bringing renewed energy to science-based sexual health education and policy in this country.
As I have been involved in a number of global, regional, and national consultations on the promotion of sexual health, I have been greatly encouraged that despite the problems and setbacks, there is a greater understanding of the need to promote sexual health—in its broadest sense! Sexual health is now in the lexicon of public policy makers, and we have an opportunity to move this agenda forward as in no other time that I can recall. Something very profound is happening and converging all at the same time. It is a moment in history that we need to capitalize on so that we do not miss this extraordinary opportunity.
I think everyone is concerned about the current financial crisis. I am very concerned how this may impact people’s sexual health and sexual health promotion. For individuals, the financial downturn or loss of a job can add stress to their life which can impact their relationships as well as their mental and physical wellbeing. It can also determine the number of times that they are able to seek general physical or mental health services or in particular sexual health services. The financial crisis simply adds another barrier for many to improve their sexual health.
We are very concerned as well because the University has been affected and budgets are certain to be cut. It is unclear what will happen to research funding. For PHS, this can mean a decrease in revenue. Although spending will be closely examined at the University, we are determined to continue our strong commitment to our work in sexual health through education, research, clinical service, and public policy advocacy.
These are difficult times for many. But we must use every resource to move the sexual health agenda forward. As ever, we appreciate your help and support! Yes we can!
Eli Coleman, PhD
Professor and Director
Academic Chair in Sexual Health