Sex Ed and HIV Prevention Education in U.S. Schools ‘Fiercely Politicized’ and ‘Highly Problematic,’ Article Says
Sex education and HIV prevention education in U.S. schools is a "heated, fiercely politicized debate" that "remains highly problematic," according to the monthly HIV/AIDS magazine POZ. According to recent CDC data, one-third of U.S. ninth graders have had sexual intercourse; 47% of high-school-age teenagers and adults have had sexual intercourse; and 75% of black high-school-age boys and men have had sexual intercourse. In addition, 12% of the 40,000 new HIV cases in the U.S. annually occur among people between age 13 and 24, POZ reports. There is no federal law requiring that sex education be taught in schools. Although about 20 states require some form of sex education and about 40 states require HIV/AIDS education, "what actually gets taught, and how, varies wildly by state, county, school district -- even by school," according to POZ. A 2004 Government Accountability Office report found that the curriculum of 11 out of 13 of the most popular federally funded programs emphasizing abstinence-only-until-marriage had clear inaccuracies, including that HIV could be transmitted through sweat and tears. According to POZ, teachers, parents and HIV-positive youth are "fighting back and mobilizing against" abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs, and parents in Albuquerque, N.M., successfully lobbied to have abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs limited to grade six and below, "freeing room for" more comprehensive sex education in the upper grades (Murphy, POZ, January 2007).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.