Curbing the Risks: Toward a Transdisciplinary Sexual Health Literacy Program for Young Adults Who are Deaf and LGBT+


The alarming increase of HIV cases among young adults in the Philippines due to risky sexual behavior led the authors to investigate sexual behaviors among young adults who are Deaf** and LGBT+*. This project explores the romantic experiences of self-identified young adults who are Deaf and LGBT+ in the Philippines, it also investigates the sexual activities embedded in these experiences. Meanings drawn from the narratives in sign language reveal that there are levels of sexual intimacy (i.e., from “incomplete” to “complete” sex), which vary from one individual to another, with associated risks increasing as activities intensify. Interestingly, the meaning-making process, symbolized in signing, differ from standard spoken language. Further, though data from the participants indicate that most of them are consistently having sex with the same person, certain risk factors have been revealed that could compromise their health: non-use of condoms and inadequate knowledge of the nature and transmission of sexually transmitted infections (e.g., HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea). While sensory challenge can contribute to difficulties in receiving mainstream sexual health campaigns, the degree of awareness is also hampered by the lack of sign language interpreters collaborating with properly trained professionals to achieve a transdisciplinary*** knowledge of proper sexual health education. Improvements have to be made as far as sexual health education among the Deaf is concerned, and the authors developed a transdisciplinary approach to sexual health literacy to address particularly the sexual health needs of the LGBT+ sector of the Deaf Community.

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Correspondence to Marie Grace A. Gomez.

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*The use of the term “LGBT+” intends to highlight the complexity and diversity of human sexual experience. The authors acknowledge the rich fabric of human sexuality where gender identities, sexual orientations, and sexual preferences are intricately connected to each other in ways that are never completely captured in the simplistic use of traditional heteronormative dichotomous labels particularly “heterosexual” and “gay/lesbian”.

**“Deaf” is capitalized for the purpose of referring to those with hearing loss who adhere to manual communication methods. The authors’ use of the capitalized “Deaf” and the qualifier “who are Deaf” (rather than “with deafness”) is with careful consideration of certain cultural sensitivities relating to the Deaf community. In this line, of another important note is that Filipino Sign Language is used in this article.

***A transdisciplinary team consists of various professionals who work collaboratively towards a specific goal.

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Gomez, M.G.A., Geneta, A.L.P. Curbing the Risks: Toward a Transdisciplinary Sexual Health Literacy Program for Young Adults Who are Deaf and LGBT+. Sex Disabil 39, 195–213 (2021).

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  • Young adults who are Deaf and LGBT+
  • Sexual activities
  • Sexual practices
  • Sexual health literacy
  • Philippines