October 1, 2012
Researchers at the University of Oregon suggest that the way to reduce sexually transmitted disease (STDs) in low-income, African American youth living in urban areas may be better communication between teens and adults. The study interviewed African American teens aged 15-17 years in San Francisco and Chicago. Results show that, while sexual education programs were almost universal, most teens had received very little accurate sexual health information from the majority of their information sources on sex and STDs. The teens made better sexual health choices when they had information from multiple sources about HIV and other STDs and infections. The researchers stated that abstinence education could be improved if more emphasis was placed on the impact of emotional interaction as an alternative to sexual activities. The study suggests that more collaboration between social institutions such as churches, schools, and health care providers could decrease the high rates of African Americans living with STDs. Also, sex education programs would be more effective for this audience if sex was discussed as a healthy aspect of life when age-appropriate and in the right circumstances. The study was published in the journal Research in Human Development.