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Sex Education Goes Online to Reach Teens

January 25, 2008

More than 300 people gathered this week in San Francisco for the SexTech conference. Organizers staged the meeting to explore how the technology popular with today's teens -- such as social networking sites, video games, and text messaging -- can be used to convey facts about sex and health.

Young people are "looking for information on sex online and on their cell phones, so let's make it available to them in a legitimate way," said Deb Levine, executive director of Oakland's Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS), which organized the meeting. Among projects under discussion:

  • The San Francisco Department of Public Health's text messaging service offers answers to commonly asked questions about sex. Developed to capitalize on the popularity of both cell phones and text messaging, it was inspired in part by the way viewers cast their votes on "American Idol."
  • Beginning in June, ISIS will partner with the University of Colorado and Columbia University to test a MySpace-based AIDS awareness project targeting 14- to 18-year-olds.
  • CDC's Rachel Kachur discussed advancements such as using cell phones to deliver STD test results, diagnose infections and remind patients to take their medicine on schedule.

"There are important issues of privacy that technology can overcome," said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of the San Francisco Department of Health's STD Prevention and Control division. "People can access information privately and remain anonymous."

But in addition to opportunities, those in attendance acknowledged persistent challenges, such as retaining funding for often-controversial sex education projects, and the difficulty of keeping current with continually evolving technology.

Back to other news for January 2008

Adapted from:
San Francisco Chronicle
01.24.2008; Ellen Lee

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.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention Multimedia for Young People


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