Hesperian Health Guides

Working for change

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 8: Sexual health: Preventing sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS > Working for change

STIs and HIV/AIDS are health problems for the whole community, including women with disabilities. Sometimes disability groups think sexual health is not something they should worry about. But sex education can save people’s lives.

Good information about sexual health and about how to prevent STIs must be available to everyone, including women with disabilities. For example, information about preventing HIV/AIDS that often comes through radio or on printed leaflets should be available and accessible for deaf and blind women.

What women with disabilities can do:
a woman in a wheelchair speaking.
Educate other disabled people about HIV/AIDS and sexual health.
  • Meet with caregivers and families of women with disabilities to explain how important it is for everyone to have good information about sexual health.
  • Work with health workers and other groups to make sure HIV/AIDS and sexual health services reach people with disabilities.
  • If someone is taking advantage of you sexually, tell someone you trust—a family member, a neighbor, a health worker.
What families and caregivers can do:
a woman speaking.
Make sure no one takes sexual advantage of women with disabilities.
  • Make sure disabled women have information about sexual health and how to prevent HIV/AIDS and STIs. Give the information in a way that is respectful and private.
  • Help other parents of disabled children understand that when their children grow up, they will want to have sexual relationships, just like people who are not disabled.
What communities can do:

It is important for everyone in the community to know how HIV/AIDS and STIs are spread and how to prevent them. With this information, people can realize that these infections can happen to anyone and they can act to prevent them. And this knowledge can help people understand that women with disabilities need the same health care services as everyone else in the community.

It is very important to fight against the conditions that lead to the spread of disease and not against the people who are infected. HIV/AIDS and STIs can best be prevented by fighting for fairer social and economic conditions so that women, including women with disabilities, will have more decision-making power, so that families do not need to separate to find work, and so that people do not need to sell their bodies for sex.

  • Make sure all people—including women with disabilities—have access to information and sexual health services, including latex condoms, to keep HIV and other STIs from spreading in the community.
  • Make sure medicines, clean water, and nutritious food are available for people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Educate people in your community to prevent girls and women with disabilities from being taken advantage of sexually, and to understand that having sex with them will not cure AIDS.