About Sexual Health Awareness Week
Sex is something that is not often publicly discussed, although it is a part of our everyday lives; on television, in magazines, on billboards, on the Web. The images we see promote sexuality, but don’t teach us how to be responsible for our sexual health. Sexual health awareness is not just about preventing diseases, it’s also about open communication and acceptance of individual differences, resulting in realistic expectations and an understanding of sexuality and relationships.
Sexual Health Awareness Week aims to broaden people's understanding of sexual health and relationships, raising awareness of sexual health issues in South Australia.
Sexual Health Awareness Week (SHAW) is a SHine SA initiative that runs from 14-21 February every year and targets young adults between 18 and 30 years. SHAW encourages them to look at the social, cultural, environmental and behavioural factors that can influence their own health.
The focus for 2012 is Chlamydia with the theme of Chlamydia ... It's Easy! Easy to get. Easy to test. Easy to treat.
What is sexual health?
Sexual health is an important part of the overall health and wellbeing of all people in the community, from the young to the old, irrespective of whether a person has or ever will be sexually active.
There is a general misconception that being sexually healthy means being physically healthy or having regular check ups for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It’s much more than that. It also includes the emotional and psychological aspects to health and wellbeing, especially those aspects that relate to relationships and sexuality.
Sexual Health Awareness Week aims to dispel misconceptions and encourage communities to start talking about and adopting a holistic approach to sexual health.
Sexual health is the:
- knowledge and skills about making healthy life choices
- ability to enjoy and control sexual behaviour, including freedom from guilt, fear, shame and violation
- freedom from diseases and unplanned and unwanted pregnancy
- freedom and the right to choose positive expressions of sexuality
In other words, it's a lot more than safer sex and preventing pregnancy and STIs. It's also about open communication, acceptance of individual differences and having realistic expectations and an understanding of sexuality. It's about life, love, relationships and the freedom of sexual expression. It's about what's going on in your head, what you think and feel, and how you relate this to others. It's about safety, pleasure and respect.
Why have Sexual Health Awareness Week?
While there had been safer sex campaigns, often linked to prevention of HIV/AIDS, in 2001 there had not been a general campaign that encouraged people to be aware of their sexual health. Recognising the need to educate the general public, SHine SA designated the week beginning with Valentine's Day in 2001 as Sexual Health Awareness Week and ran health promotion activities on sexual health issues as part of the core work of the organisation.
In the organisational planning for 2002 SHine SA decided to extend the concept of Sexual Health Awareness Week to have a broader statewide focus. After consultation with partner agencies (women's health centres, youth health and community services, AIDS Council, disability services, Anti Cancer Foundation, Pregnancy Advisory Centre, Yarrow Place, rural health services and Aboriginal sexual health workers) SHine SA determined that there was community interest and support for such an event and the first Sexual Health Awareness Week in South Australia was held from 14-21 February 2002.
Since 2002, SHine SA's Sexual Health Awareness Week has become an annual event in South Australia.
Why safety, pleasure and respect?
The themes for Sexual Health Awareness Week always include safety, pleasure and respect. These three simple words capture important concepts which underpin the goals of Sexual Health Awareness Week:
...in knowing how to behave without putting yourself at risk of infection or unwanted pregnancy
...in being with someone you feel safe with
...in how you express and explore your sexuality
...in knowing if it doesn't feel safe...don't do it
...in the intimacy you can have with someone or just on your own
...in feeling secure and loved
...in having healthy relationships
...in feeling strong and confident in your own body
...for your own body; seeking check-ups when you need them
...for your partner's body
...for the choices other people make
...for people of all sexualities
...for others when they say no; NO ALWAYS MEANS NO
For more information about Sexual Health Awareness Week contact:
Tel: 8186 8600