Family Planning: A Key Tool for Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation

Family Planning: A Key Tool for Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation

 {Photo Credit: Gwenn Dubourthournieu}HIV education is a crucial aspect of family planning services.Photo Credit: Gwenn Dubourthournieu

This year’s World Population Day coincides with the Family Planning Summit—a global moment where intentions and commitments to the right to health for all are revitalized. An essential component of HIV prevention and treatment, family planning must be prioritized in global and national agendas. Here are four reasons why: 

  1. Family planning is essential to maintaining progress on HIV goals: Meeting the needs of young people, particularly in developing countries, is critical to maintaining progress and momentum in controlling the HIV and AIDS epidemic. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where the youth population has nearly doubled since the beginning of the epidemic, millions more young people are entering a stage in life where they may be at increased risk of exposure to HIV. With the world’s highest fertility rates and the lowest use of modern contraception, family planning services are urgently needed to help young people protect themselves and prevent new infections.

  2. Family planning programs increase access to and uptake of HIV services: An important entry point to addressing HIV risk factors, family planning and other reproductive health services are key opportunities for increased education and prevention interventions. Family planning services give young people, women, and men the information and services they need to protect themselves and their partners from unintended pregnancies and HIV, and referrals to treatment and supportive services for those who are diagnosed as HIV-positive.

  3. Linking family planning and HIV programs improves access to quality health services: Integrating HIV and reproductive health programs, including family planning and maternal health, can help address HIV-related stigma and extend programs to underserved populations. Women, men, and key populations who might not seek out HIV services because of stigma or other barriers can be reached through reproductive health services. Co-locating services is also more convenient for clients and, in preventing multiple trips to different locations, can be more cost-effective.

  4. Access to voluntary family planning services promotes human rights and increases the quality of life for people living with HIV: All people—including those living with HIV—have the right to sexual and reproductive health. Access to voluntary family planning services ensures that people living with HIV can plan their families, prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce pregnancy-related complications, and prevent transmission of HIV to their children.

Integrating family planning and HIV services will help us reach two important global goals: addressing the unmet need for family planning and reducing the incidence of HIV. All people—including those living with HIV and AIDS—should have access to voluntary, non-discriminatory, high-quality family planning services that support their fertility choices. We must recommit ourselves to strategic action now to make this access a reality.