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The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior

July 9, 2001

Methodology

In June 1999, the Surgeon General formed a Departmental work group charged with finding ways to move forward on promoting responsible sexual behavior -- one of his Public Health Priorities and one of the Healthy People 2010 Leading Health Indicators. After considerable deliberation, the work group concluded that promoting responsible sexual behavior necessarily included addressing sexual health.

To this end, in December 1999 a dialogue conference was held in Newport, Rhode Island, to discuss whether a national strategy to promote sexual health and responsible sexual behavior might be feasible and what such a strategy would look like. More than 100 persons, representing a broad range of disciplines and points of view, attended. Conference participants worked in small groups to discuss definition issues, action steps, barriers and facilitators, and strategies to bring together multi-partisan groups and develop common ground on these issues.

A summary of the Newport dialogue proceedings was subsequently presented to the Surgeon General and, at his direction, a steering committee of experts was convened to plan and carry out another conference specifically to develop recommendations for a Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior. In preparation for the conference, the steering committee also developed a draft outline for the Call to Action and commissioned a number of scientific review papers from experts in relevant fields to provide context for both the document and the conference.

The conference to develop recommendations for the Call to Action was held in July 2000, at the Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia. More than 130 persons representing 90 organizations -- a diverse aggregation of expertise, perspective and experience -- collaborated over three days to develop the conceptual framework for a national dialogue on sexual health and responsible sexual behavior that forms the core of this document. As in Rhode Island, conference participants worked in small groups to discuss issues concerning the value, function and purpose of sexuality in people's lives, policies and actions to promote sexual health and responsible sexual behavior, and their recommendations on the draft outline for the Call to Action, as well as those for advancing a national dialogue.

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The final preparation of the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior was then undertaken by a team of experts in the fields of public health, sexuality, and sexual health. The first five sections of this document, developed to frame and define the issues, were prepared in part from the scientific reviews written prior to the conference and the discussions of conference participants in their small groups. The last two sections, strategies and advancing a national dialogue, are a synthesis of the work of conference participants in their small groups and were held to standards of feasibility and support by the scientific literature.

Drafts of this Call to Action were subjected to a rigorous review by a committee representing the same diversity of expertise, perspective, and experience evidenced by the participants of both the Rhode Island and Virginia conferences. Review committee members included the discussion leaders from each small group and a cross-section of other conference participants to ensure that this document reflects the views expressed there. Several additional reviewers, who had attended neither conference, were also added to further maximize the breadth of participation and input.





  
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This article was provided by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
 

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