New Jersey AIDS Panel Urges Schools to Provide Condoms
January 10, 2003
The New Jersey Governor's Advisory Council on AIDS, in a report to Gov. James E. McGreevey, says the state should step up its AIDS fight by providing clean needles to drug addicts and condoms to public school students. Compiled by a diverse group of health care workers, lawmakers, administration officials and clergy, the council's first report since 1996 recommends ways to reduce the rate of AIDS in New Jersey and improve the care of people who have the disease.Adapted from:
McGreevey has already ordered the Department of Health and Senior Services to develop a pilot needle exchange program; former Gov. Christie Whitman strongly opposed such programs. This has encouraged many AIDS prevention workers to think the governor might also embrace the idea of allowing teens to get condoms at school. Ellen Mellody, a McGreevey spokesperson, said, "While the governor supports comprehensive age-appropriate sex education in public schools, including information regarding contraception, abstinence, STDs and HIV prevention, he feels that [condom distribution] should be a local decision."
Terrence P. Zealand, the council's acting chair and director of the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, said he hoped school districts would voluntarily adopt condom distribution policies. He envisioned making condoms available at school-based clinics or through school nurses, who would meet confidentially with students.
New Jersey ranks fifth in the nation in AIDS cases, with 43,824 at the end of 2001, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services. There have been 196 reported HIV infections among New Jersey residents ages 13-19 in the last decade.
The Institute of Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association have all adopted policies recommending condom availability to adolescents as part of comprehensive school health programs. Several large districts around the country, including New York City, have condom distribution programs. A 1997 American Journal of Public Health study of New York City's program found a significant increase in condom use among sexually active students but no increase in sexual activity.
No New Jersey school district has taken up the council's past recommendations to distribute condoms.
Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.)
01.09.03; Susan K. Livio; Jonathan Schuppe
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.