It is time to realign research and policy making to promote better sexual health for all, according to the latest editorial from the PLoS Medicine team. Sexual health problems arise from curable and incurable sexually transmitted infections, lack of access to contraceptives, lack of access to services and unsafe abortion, and occur at the intersection of health, culture, religion and politics. Curable sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, cause a significant burden of disease in both high and low income countries. As the editors say, 'there are 19 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States, at an estimated cost of US$15.9 billion annually to the US health care system'. Unmet contraceptive needs and unsafe sex both figure in the top 20 risk factors for mortality and burden of disease and have been included in PLoS Medicine's recently announced priority areas for publication. The editors call for political and religious leaders to redouble their efforts to realign research and policy making to promote better sexual health for all, and provide the support that is necessary to enable medical research to fulfill its role in promoting sexual health.
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