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Adolescent sexual health

Sarah M. Kendig


The sexual health of adolescents is an important and controversial topic among policymakers, social researchers, and the public both in the US and internationally. Even though one in every five people in the world is an adolescent, with 85 percent of adolescents living in developing countries ( World Health Organization 2008 ), and sexual activity in adolescence is common, the sexual development of adolescents is often seen as problematic and often deviant, especially for girls. Adolescence is usually the time when individuals are initially at risk for negative sexual health outcomes with the onset of sexual activity. The negative consequences including sexually transmitted infections (STIs), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and violence based on gender or sexual orientation are well documented. Young men and women's sexual development in adolescence is closely related to their later sexual health in adulthood. More generally, nearly two-thirds of premature deaths are associated with conditions or behaviors that began in adolescence ( WHO 2008 ). Sexual health is defined as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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