Sexual health is defined in terms of well-being, but is challenged by the social, cultural and economic realities faced by women and men with HIV. A sexual rights approach puts women and men with HIV in charge of their sexual health. Accurate, accessible information to make informed choices and safe, pleasurable sexual relationships possible is best delivered through peer education and health professionals trained in empathetic approaches to sensitive issues. Young people with HIV especially need appropriate sex education and support for dealing with sexuality and self-identity with HIV. Women and men with HIV need condoms, appropriate services for sexually transmitted infections, sexual dysfunction and management of cervical and anogenital cancers. Interventions based on positive prevention, that combine protection of personal health with avoiding HIV/STI transmission to partners, are recommended. HIV counselling following a positive test has increased condom use and decreased coercive sex and outside sexual contacts among discordant couples. HIV treatment and care have reduced stigma and increased uptake of HIV testing and disclosure of positive status to partners. High adherence to antiretroviral therapy and safer sexual behaviour must go hand-in-hand. Sexual health services have worked with peer educators and volunteer groups to reach those at higher risk, such as sex workers. Technological advances in diagnosis of STIs, microbicide development and screening and vaccination for human papillomavirus must be available in developing countries and for those with the highest need globally. © 2007 Reproductive Health Matters.
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