Volume 91, Issue 87

Friday, March 13, 1998

Bottoms up


Safer sex a worldwide concern

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

Issues surrounding reproductive health and its role in families, society and the world as a whole were discussed by health expert Carol Vlassoff yesterday at Western.

Vlassoff, a senior specialist with the Canadian International Development Agency, traced the history of fertility and contraception use throughout different cultures.

Reproductive health is a state of complete social, physical and mental well-being in all matters related to the reproductive system, she said. One of the best ways to ensure reproductive health is through family planning, which implies marrying and bearing children later in life and spacing out the time between births, Vlassoff said.

"Repeated pregnancies and deliveries put women at risk of anaemia, infection associated with unsafe deliveries and abortions due to unwanted pregnancies."

She explained the HIV epidemic has brought forward issues of condom use as well as power relations between men and women. These relations require increased balance between genders regarding issues of contraceptive risk and responsibility.

"Women need to be able to openly discuss condom use with their partners," Vlassoff said.

Many health programs of the past have failed because related disciplines have not worked together, she explained. The medical profession, demographers, health professionals and governments need to communicate and collaborate with one another and with women and their families to be the most useful to society.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998