Comprehensive sexuality education


Com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al­ity edu­ca­tion gives young peo­ple accu­rate, age-appro­pri­ate infor­ma­tion about sex­u­al­ity and their sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health, which is crit­i­cal for their health and sur­vival. Com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al­ity edu­ca­tion equips and empow­ers young peo­ple to pro­tect them­selves from HIV and other sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases. Com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al­ity edu­ca­tion pro­grammes should be based on an estab­lished cur­ricu­lum; sci­en­tif­i­cally accu­rate; tai­lored for dif­fer­ent ages; com­pre­hen­sive; and should be dif­fer­en­ti­ated from sex edu­ca­tion. Given the inter­sec­tion­al­ity of HIV risk fac­tors and bar­ri­ers to its pre­ven­tion and treat­ment, there is grow­ing recog­ni­tion that com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al­ity edu­ca­tion prac­tices must address the needs of young peo­ple & key pop­u­la­tions and struc­tural dri­vers of sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health. This can be achieved by ensur­ing cul­tur­ally appro­pri­ate, com­mu­nity dri­ven engage­ment which is tai­lored for a sub-group. Top­ics cov­ered by com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al­ity edu­ca­tion include fam­i­lies and rela­tion­ships; respect, con­sent and bod­ily auton­omy; anatomy, puberty and men­stru­a­tion; con­tra­cep­tion and preg­nancy; sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted infec­tions, includ­ing HIV; and oth­ers.

Evi­dence con­sis­tently shows that high-qual­ity sex­u­al­ity edu­ca­tion deliv­ers pos­i­tive health out­comes, with life­long impacts. Young peo­ple are more likely to delay the onset of sex­ual activ­ity–and when they do have sex, to prac­tice safer sex–when they are bet­ter informed about their sex­u­al­ity, sex­ual health and their rights. Yet research shows that the major­ity of ado­les­cents lack the knowl­edge required to make deci­sions about their sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health respon­si­bly, leav­ing them vul­ner­a­ble to coer­cion, HIV infec­tion, and unin­tended preg­nancy.

Inter­na­tional agree­ments reflected in the Lan­guage Com­pendium include com­mit­ments to address this gap by “accel­er­at­ing efforts to scale up sci­en­tif­i­cally accu­rate, age-appro­pri­ate com­pre­hen­sive edu­ca­tion, rel­e­vant to cul­tural con­texts, that pro­vides ado­les­cent girls and boys and young women and men, in and out of school, con­sis­tent with their evolv­ing capac­i­ties, with infor­ma­tion on sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health and HIV pre­ven­tion, gen­der equal­ity and women’s empow­er­ment, human rights, phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal and puber­tal devel­op­ment and power in rela­tion­ships between women and men.” Prece­dents in the Lan­guage Com­pendium also rec­og­nize that com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al­ity edu­ca­tion helps “build self-esteem and informed deci­sion-mak­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and risk reduc­tion skills and develop respect­ful rela­tion­ships,” enabling young peo­ple and oth­ers at risk “to pro­tect them­selves from HIV infec­tion.”


2021 Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026

2021 CSW Report on women and HIV/AIDS

2021 Political declaration on HIV and AIDS

2018 HRC Resolution on human rights in the context of HIV and AIDS

2016 Resolution on Women, the Girl Child and HIV and AIDS

2016 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS

2011 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS

2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS

2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS

Expert precedents

2022 OHCHR Annual Report on Human Rights and HIV/AIDS

2022 Report of the Independent Expert on SOGI: Law of Inclusion

2016 General Comment No.22 on the Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health

1999 General Recommendation No.24 on women and health


2021 State of World Population

2020 Evidence Review of the UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021

2016 Prevention Gap Report