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U.S. News

Florida: Red Cross Ends HIV Program for School Teens

March 4, 2008

On Friday, the local Red Cross chapter ended a peer education and speaker program that has brought information about HIV and its prevention to about 250,000 Palm Beach County teens over two decades.

Red Cross “made a business decision” to end its partnership with the school system because the program was not reaching enough high-risk youths, said Joseph Hansen, the chapter’s spokesperson. The group is “considering re-evaluating the program,” Hansen said, adding that just 14 percent of program participants were seen as the targeted audience. “The Red Cross is working with the school board and other community organizations to increase the percent we reach of the at-risk youth,” he said.

The CDC-funded peer HIV prevention and speaker program reached 85,000 students in grades seven through 12 in 2007. “The program will be very missed as a supplement to our HIV curriculum,” said Dani Fitzgerald, the school board’s grant manager. The Red Cross program was the only comprehensive HIV education component offered to the county’s juniors and seniors.

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Nothing can replace the effectiveness of peer education, said Dr. Jean Malecki, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department. Malecki wished Red Cross had given more warning about discontinuing the program. “We could have looked somewhere else to replace the peer education program if we had a chance,” she said.

Back to other news for March 2008

Adapted from:
Palm Beach Post
3.01.2008; Antigone Barton


  
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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.
 
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