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Sexuality and public health 

Sexuality and public health
Sexuality and public health

Richard Parker

, Jonathan Garcia

, Miguel Muñoz-Laboy

, Marni Sommer

, and Patrick Wilson

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date: 22 January 2022

This chapter addresses several key dimensions of sexuality and its role in public health work around the world. We discuss the HIV and AIDS epidemic as a relatively recent catalyst for research and social mobilization centered on the intersection between sexuality and public health. We go further to highlight how this intersection affects the health of young people, heterosexual relations, sexual diversity and alternative sexualities. Methodologically, sexuality-related public health research can be focused on sexual desires, behaviors or identities. In public health, heterosexuality has been given less attention than “non-normative” sexualities. The study of alternative sexualities faces challenges particularly because oppressive social norms often drive some of the most vulnerable populations to be “hidden” or hard-to-reach. The field of sexuality is ideologically charged, thus we explore how sexuality is socially regulated and sexual rights are conceived and disputed as part of local and international public health agendas. Overall, we show that public health research on sexuality and sexual health has vast implications for mental health, addressing violence, as well as for understanding how the sociocultural, economic, and political contexts shape public health responses.

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