HIV/AIDS advocates and teenagers from Healthy Teens Connecticut on Wednesday in Connecticut rallied at the state capitol and called on lawmakers to pass a bill that would provide $500,000 in state grants for comprehensive sex education, the Hartford Courant reports. According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, five new HIV cases were reported among children younger the age 12 in 2007. In addition, 143 new cases of HIV/AIDS were reported among people ages 20 to 29 during the same year, according to the health department.
Shawn Lang, director of public policy for the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition, said most of the new cases were transmitted when people were teenagers. Some advocates said that the persistence of new HIV/AIDS cases among young people in the state, as well as the high rates of other sexually transmitted infections, shows that there is a need for more sex education. Lang noted that comprehensive sex education is the "front line of AIDS prevention." According to the Courant, the classes supported by the grants would cover such information as the prevention of STIs and unplanned pregnancies, reproduction, puberty, abstinence and contraception.
The bill is supported by Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, which called the program a healthy alternative to unreliable information about sex that teenagers receive from the Internet and their friends. Opponents of the measure include some religious groups that say the program could encourage sex among teenagers and increase the number of abortions in the state. A vote on the bill is expected next month, the Courant reports (Waldman, Hartford Courant, 4/24).
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