Latin America: Prevention Is Weakest Link in AIDS Fight
July 30, 2010
Many Latin American countries have enacted laws and policies to provide youth with sexual health education and services; implementation, however, has been spotty.
At the 2008 International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, Latin American and Caribbean ministers pledged to boost by 75 percent the number of schools that offer comprehensive sex education. Their declaration also promised an increase of 50 percent in the number of youths with access to sexual health services.
Under Mexico's conservative National Action Party, the Public Health Secretariat has provided adolescents with a book about contraceptive methods. Leftist-led Mexico City will provide classes on sexuality and gender education during the 2010-11 school year. Other states have been slower to take action, said Alexis Sorel of the Mexico-based Sexuality and Democracy Network.
Brazil's health and education ministries have taken a leading role in structuring a national policy of school-based sex education, including information about STDs and discrimination against homosexuals, said Juan Carlos Raxach, project advisor of the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association on AIDS (ABIA).
"But in practice it is difficult to ensure all of the schools take on this commitment," Raxach said. While this is slowly changing, schools are adopting ABIA-produced sex education materials, he added. Outside of school, adolescents receive little sex education and do not identify with the few messages that target them, he said.
In Chile, the change in national government in March has delayed enactment of a law establishing secondary school sex education. However, more than 5,000 teachers and professors have been trained. The subject also has been incorporated into curricula, but "that doesn't necessarily translate into action in the schools," said Leonardo Arenas, coordinator of Arcis University's Sexual Education Program. Access to sex education can depend on the political ideology of the mayor, since schools are municipally controlled, he said.
Inter Press Service
07.22.2010; Daniela Estrada
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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