While the intention of age of consent laws for medical services is often to protect children, in practice such laws do the opposite, by discouraging adolescents from accessing the services they need to stay healthy.
Age of consent laws for medical services require people aged younger than 18 years to obtain permission from a parent or guardian before accessing sexual and reproductive health services, HIV testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis and other health services. They particularly affect adolescent girls, whose sexuality tends to be stigmatized and who bear the physical and social burdens of unwanted pregnancies.
In 2017, 78 of 110 reporting countries stated that they required parental consent for a child under 18 years to access HIV testing, and 61 of 109 reporting countries required parental consent for HIV treatment. In addition, 68 of 108 reporting countries required parental consent to access sexual and reproductive health services.