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Arkansas: Change in Air for State's Sex Education Classes

August 23, 2010

Arkansas Department of Health officials say the state will apply for federal grants to provide abstinence-based sex education that includes information about contraceptives.

Of Arkansas high school students polled, 53.6 percent reported being sexually active, compared with 46 percent of such students nationally, according to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Condom use was reported by 58.7 percent, compared with the national average of 61.1 percent. In 2006, the state recorded 62.3 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19; the national average was 41.9 births per 1,000 teenage girls.

The Personal Responsibility Education Program grants, created under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, are entirely federally funded. Federal abstinence-only grants would require a 43 percent match through state, local or private funds.

"We have no state money to use as a match," said Dr. Richard Nugent, the department's recently retired branch chief for family health. "Any program that can be funded with federal money is certainly more attractive at this point," said Dr. David Grimes, the current chief.

The state could be eligible for an estimated $485,372 for each of fiscal years 2010 and 2011, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. The application deadline is Aug. 30 for the grants, which the state could use to fund programs for public schools and private youth groups.

"Will we let this opportunity pass us by? I don't think so," said Ed Barham, a state Health Department spokesperson. "We have a big problem here and we know that. We very much welcome the help this represents."

The new program emphasizes abstinence, prevention of pregnancy and STDs, developing a positive body image and healthy relationships. The state Health Department is talking with groups that might be interested in implementing programs. The greatest need is for people who will teach teens, Barham said.

Back to other news for August 2010

Adapted from:
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
08.15.2010; Sarah D. Wire

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
More HIV Prevention Policy News on the U.S. South

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