Young people these days need more
time getting straight-forward talk about
sex and less time using social media.
Studies show that school-based HIV/AIDS education programs are effective in reducing risky behaviors. Sadly those programs are coming up short. That’s Cheryl Garfield’s argument.
“Education is lacking in the school system and in the homes,” said Garfield, a mother of five children.
Schools play a key role in educating students about HIV/AIDS
In their 2013 “National HIV Prevention Progress Report,” the CDC
report stated that “families, the media, and community organizations,
including faith-based organizations, can play a role in providing HIV,
other STD, and pregnancy prevention education.” A key role in adolescent
sexual health, they stated, is played by the schools in providing HIV,
other STD, and pregnancy prevention education to young people.
Garfield, whose five children are now young adults, attended the event
“Your Sexual Health,” at New Beginnings Sanctuary of Praise Church of God
in Christ, in West Philadelphia. At the event, Garfield and others in
attendance heard the latest statistics on sexually transmitted diseases
infections and diseases. The discussion was led by Stephanie Jackson,
a nursing student, and Dr. Charlotte Morris, a Certified Midwife who
worked for more than 20 years in hospitals and city health district clinics.
For several years, Garfield worked in a cultural arts program and
worked with adolescents affected by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Garfield said she has seen children as young as 10 and 11 years old affected by
those diseases. In the cultural arts program, Garfield taught youth how STDs are
contracted, and also held conversations with their parents to ensure that
they received the correct information.
“A lot of youth don’t want to go to their parents because they’re scared.
Education is key. If they get taught at home the [outbreak] wouldn’t be
as high. Teenagers aren’t educated on the diseases that are out there,”
said Garfield. She added that education is key to reduce the burden of STDs
becoming a mental health issue.
In her current position as a community health worker with Penn Medicine,
Garfield provides social services for adults 18 years of age, and helps
address key health barriers. Garfield said she wasn’t surprised by the current
statistics on Black adolescents and youth affected with the HIV virus.
HIV/AIDS education is key to reducing the burden
In a survey on STDs, Blacks were more likely than Whites not to have
been taught in school about AIDS or HIV infection.
The latest available data from 2009 on students in Pennsylvania who
were taught in school about AIDS or HIV infection also revealed that
Blacks were more likely than Whites not to have been taught in school
about AIDS or HIV infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), youth aged 13–24
years make up 7 percent of the estimated 1.1 million persons living with
HIV infection and 26 percent of the estimated 47,500 new HIV infections.
Among the 1.1 million infected, 57 percent were Blacks/African Americans,
20 percent were Hispanics/Latinos, and 20 percent were Whites.
In 2013, a strategy goal of the CDC was to lower the annual number of new
HIV infections by 25 percent within two years. The fight to control the outbreak of STD’s continues.