New York: School AIDS Efforts Assailed
November 4, 2005
Concerned that students are having problems accessing health advice and condoms at New York City high schools, the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) yesterday launched a "Find the Condom in Your Schools" campaign. The nonprofit wants campaigners to request condoms from staff and survey their peers on condom accessibility. The results will be released later this month.
In the last 18 months, 212 out of around 380 city high schools did not order condoms, according to a Department of Education (DOE) response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed on behalf of CHAMP. Schools that ordered condoms received a total of 320 boxes, each with 1,000 condoms. That translates to 1.4 condoms per sexually active student, said CHAMP Program Coordinator Sarah Howell. "Students don't have the tools they need to have to protect themselves from HIV and sexually transmitted diseases," she said.
DOE officials say the group's calculations overlook the condoms ordered more than 18 months ago. While condoms carry expiration dates, their average shelf life is about five years. According to DOE officials, schools stock condoms as needed because the chancellor's 1981 regulations require them to dispense condoms upon request, unless a student's parent chooses to opt out of this service.
Also yesterday, DOE spokesperson Keith Kalb said a new health curricula is being rolled out to all schools this fall, a process that should be completed by Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. Last fall, city officials acknowledged that the curricula had not been updated in over a decade.
Newsday (New York)
11.04.2005; Ellen Yan