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Sexual and reproductive health in the European refugee crisis
  1. Fionnuala Finnerty1,
  2. Maryam Shahmanesh2
  1. 1SpR GU/HIV Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals, Brighton, UK
  2. 2Research Department of Infection and Population Health, University College, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fionnuala Finnerty, SpR GU/HIV Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals, Eastern Road, Brighton BN2 5BE, UK; fionnuala.finnerty{at}

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The WHO definition of sexual health is defined as:

‘a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation 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’ (WHO, 2006a)1.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are among the most common acute conditions in the world. There has been a steady rise in the four most common curable STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis) in the last 20 years.2 It is estimated that there are nearly one million new infections with curable STIs globally every day.2 STIs can result in significant reproductive health morbidity, stigma, vulnerability and shame, and have been associated with gender-based violence,3 all of which contribute to the poor sexual health outcomes for men and women (see box).

There has been unprecedented movement of refugees in the last year. More than a million refugees/migrants passed into Europe in 2015—the majority via sea.4 Recent figures show in January 2016, there was a 21-fold increase in refugees and migrants arriving in Greece by sea.4 These people are mostly from …

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  • Contributors The article was commissioned by the journal. FF and MS wrote the article together. MS edited the article.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.