• Sexual health education in Georgia: A role for reducing sexually transmitted infections among adolescents

      Gates, Madison L.; Walker, Veronica; Webb, Nancy C.; Georgia Regents University (Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: In Georgia, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a substantial health issue, particularly among young adults in vulnerable and minority populations. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that sexually active adolescents and at-risk adults receive behavioral counseling and education in primary care settings, community organizations, departments of health, and schools Methods: The present approach used in Georgia for educating adolescents at high risk for STIs about these diseases was assessed. The data collected included standards for sexual health education, survey results from educators and students, and observations from a pilot study with adolescents detained by the juvenile justice system. Results: In Georgia, most health educators for middle (87.3%) and high (93.8%) schools have health and/or physical education backgrounds. They indicated a need for further education about STIs. For grades 6-12, 24% of students reported that they had not received HIV/AIDS education during the academic year. Preliminary observations from a study with juvenile detainees indicate that this population has limited knowledge about STIs, their effects and modes of transmission. Conclusion: Sexual health education, including that for HIV/AIDS, is essential to curtail the STI crisis, and educational endeavors should be culturally sensitive and evidence-based. In Georgia, many citizens, including teachers, are not adequately equipped to make informed decisions regarding STI risk. Georgia, home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is in a unique position to adapt evidence-based sexual health interventions for its population.