Sexual health is an integral part of human health and one’s quality of life. In 2020, the sexual wellness market was expected to reach over 30 billion U.S. dollars. Although sexuality is a personal matter, certain behaviors can impact health and are therefore necessary to take into consideration. In Belgium, sexual health programs evaluate behaviors which are correlated to a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or infections (STI). In addition, sexual health programs assess Belgian's use of contraceptives.
In 2018, over 1.7 million people have been infected with HIV worldwide. Although the number of infections was decreasing over the last years, around 38 million people were HIV positive in 2018. While the advance of medicine generally allows an HIV positive person to live a normal life, this disease is still linked to strong stigma and can lead to AIDS when left untreated. In Belgium, the number of HIV patients in treatment was increasing steadily in recent years. However, in 2018, only one out of two Belgians had valid knowledge of HIV.
Certain sexual behaviors are linked to a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and infections (STI). Such behaviors include being sexually active before age 15, having multiple partners, not using condoms, and scarce screening for STDs. Based on data from 2013 to 2018, the situation has not changed much in Belgium. While less than six percent of Belgians declared to have been sexually active before age fifteen in 2018, one out of ten Belgian respondents declared having multiple sexual partners. However, less than half of Belgians who had multiple partners used a condom during their last intercourse.
In 2018, lower educational levels were correlated to early sexual activity, multiple partners, yet also to fewer STD screenings. In addition, sexual behaviors in Belgium varied from one region to another during that time. The precocity of sexual intercourse was higher in the region of Wallonia, whereas having multiple partners was more frequent in the Brussels-Capital Region. However, Brussel's inhabitants displayed the highest rate of STD screening.
Since 2013, the share of contraception use was increasing in Belgium. In 2018, more than 8 out of 10 Belgian women stated to use a contraceptive method. In other words, the use of contraception was widely spread in Belgium. However, contraceptive methods varied by age, educational level, and region. The use of the pill was notably higher in younger Belgians in 2018. Although its use has been decreasing since 2004, the pill remained the most popular contraceptive method in Belgium in 2018. Indeed, the usage of other methods has increased in the country, and notably the use of the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD). Not only, the lower the educational level, the lower the use of contraceptives, but also from a regional perspective, women living in Brussels used less contraceptives in comparison to those living in Wallonia or Flanders.
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In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 34 most important statistics relating to "Sexual health in Belgium".