Sexuality and Sexual Health
Our sexuality is that part of us that is expressed through our sexual activities and relationships. It is represented in our feelings, behaviours and our sexual identity. Your sexual identity is how you choose to describe your sexuality. Some people choose a label like gay, lesbian, bisexual or many others. Many people also choose not to label their sexuality. More and more these days, people will not define their sexuality with a label, but choose to ‘take it as it comes’ or ‘do what feels right at the time’, trusting their feelings and not letting labels determine their choices.
The important thing is to do whatever feels right for you (so long as no-one will be unsafe or at risk) and identify however feels comfortable for you.
Sexual health is also an important part of our sexuality. It’s not just about your physical health, but also involves the emotional impact of coming to terms with your sexuality, and, how others deal with your sexuality.
The World Health Organisation’s draft working definition is: “Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related 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 of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”
When you’re attracted to the same sex
When you're attracted to someone of the same sex, it can be harder to find the information and support to ensure your sexual health is at its best, especially when parts of our society may not have a positive and respectful approach to sexuality. This is why it’s even more important to find places and spaces that can help you maintain our sexual health - helping you deal with any physical or emotional issues you’re going through. These aren’t necessarily places where you receive a service from a counsellor or medical practioner but also spaces where you can interact with other people who are facing, or have faced, similar issues. The following page will offer information on the support you can access on, and off, campus.
RainbowUCT is a student society at the University of Cape Town. It is a society run entirely by students, and exists for all people who appreciate sexual diversity. Rainbow celebrates the individual’s right to freely express their sexuality. They offer support to people coming to terms with their own sexuality and strive to create an environment that is accepting, tolerant and free of homophobia both on campus and in the wider community.
Health4Men offers sexual health services for all men who have sex with men. They provide free and confidential HIV screening at their clinic in Woodstock. If you test positive, they will also undertake CD4 testing and counselling. Health4Men supplies free ARV treatment and will monitor your health to address any symptoms or side-effects you may experience. Health4Men also offers free and confidential screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and genital warts. They’ll treat your STI, free of charge. They offer vaccination against viral STIs such as Hepatitis B. In addition to HIV and other STIs, feel free to consult with them if you have any other sexual health concerns. They also address prostate, testicular and anal health.These services are available at Health4Men’s Ivan Toms Clinic located at Woodstock Hospital, Victoria Walk Road, Woodstock. You can call Health4Men on 021 447 2844.
Triangle Project’s sexual health clinics offer HIV testing and training. Their services include complementary health services, HIV-related counselling and testing, STI testing and management, and general physical health. Their clinics offer tailored services to meet the needs of gay men and lesbian women. These clinics are run by gay and lesbian doctors and counsellors. Their support services include professional counselling, support groups and community counselling. Contact them at 021 448 3812 for more information or to make an appointment to see a counsellor.
Gay And Lesbian Network Helpline
This helpline is managed by a team of trained lay counselors who are able to assist callers grappling with issues around their sexuality or discrimination by providing information, advice, and referrals. The helpline operates from Monday to Friday, 4pm to 10pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 10pm. The helpline number is 0860 33 3331, or SMS HELP to 079 891 3036.