Arizona: Teens Spreading Word on Sex Ed in Unique Program
August 1, 2005
The "Real Life. Real Talk. Youth Council" is a group of Arizona teens who are training to educate their peers about the consequences of risky sex. With 37 teen girls becoming pregnant each day, Arizona has the nation's second-highest teen pregnancy rate after Nevada, according to the state health department. Arizona also has high incidences of STDs among youths, including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, human papillomavirus, and trichomoniasis.
Abstinence is emphasized as the only certain method of avoiding pregnancy and STDs, including HIV, said Janeece Anderson, a 15-year old sophomore at the Phoenix-based Teacher Prep High School who is beginning her second year on the council.
During the spring and summer breaks, the student educators -- who must be ages 13-18 and have their parent's permission to participate -- receive training in the Peer Reality Education Program of Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona. This program teaches the students about contraception, STDs, and pregnancy data.
Equipped with information about available resources and public speaking, students in the program visit youth venues including rock concerts and community events. The goal for this year's Real Life group is to do presentations at high schools.
"Teens often feel like they're being preached to by adults and tend to tune them out," said Sarah Wilner, a Planned Parenthood sexuality health educator. She noted that HIV rates are "soaring among young adults, which experts say shows many are being infected as teens."
07.29.05; Mel Melendez
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.