-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- There's been little
progress in recent years in boosting the number of American
secondary schools that teach students how to prevent pregnancy and
protect themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted
That's the finding from researchers at the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention who analyzed 2008 and 2010 data from
45 states taking part in biennial surveys of school health
The surveys assessed the percentage of schools in each state
that teach specific topics related to HIV, STD and pregnancy
prevention. The topics differ in middle schools and high schools,
but generally include basic information on the transmission and
diagnosis of HIV and other STDs, as well as pregnancy risk
reduction. Condom use is one of the topics that's covered only in
high schools, the CDC said.
The surveys revealed few indications of progress between 2008
and 2010. For example, the percentage of middle schools that taught
all essential topics to grades 6, 7 and 8 declined in 11 states and
did not rise in any of the other 33 states.
In high schools, the percentage that taught all eight essential
topics to grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 declined in one state and
increased in two states. And the percentage of high schools that
taught three condom-related topics fell in eight states while
increasing in only three.
Broken out by states in 2010, the report showed that the
percentage of middle schools that taught all topics ranged from
12.6 percent in Arizona to 66.3 percent in New York. The percentage
of high schools that taught all topics ranged from 45.3 percent in
Alaska to 96.4 percent in New Jersey. And the percentage of high
schools that taught all three condom-related topics ranged from
11.3 percent in Utah to 93.1 percent in Delaware.
Education on avoiding infection with HIV and other STDs is
critical, especially for children in middle schools who most likely
have not begun sexual activity, experts said in an editorial
accompanying the new study.
"HIV prevention can also address misperceptions about how HIV is transmitted," they noted. For example, they say, one poll conducted in 2011 found that "20 percent of persons aged 18-29 believe incorrectly that a person can become infected with HIV by sharing a drinking glass, or are unsure of whether this statement is true or false."
Schools remain integral to educating young people about ways
they can keep themselves and others safe, the experts added.
"Families, the media, and community organizations, including faith-based organizations, can play a role in providing HIV, other STD, and pregnancy prevention education," the editorialists pointed out. "However, schools are in a unique position to provide [this education] ... because almost all school-aged youths in the United States attend school."
The study appears in the April 6 issue of
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about
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