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AIDS spread to millions worldwide signals urgent prevention needs. (From the Editor).

The SIECUS Report is usually filled with original articles on sexuality-related issues. But this one is different, and that's not a bad thing. This issue is heavy with data--from the recent International AIDS Conference in Barcelona as well as from individual AIDS service organizations.

Yet the data paint a picture as vivid as any commentary we have ever had. That picture is of a shift in HIV/AIDS to young people, women, and minorities such as African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Pacific Islanders.

It sends an urgent message: We must reevaluate prevention programs so that we can reach these people with the information they need.

UNICEF reported at the AIDS Conference that half of the young people in more than a dozen countries at particular risk of HIV have never heard of the virus. It also reported that a significant percentage of at-risk young people may still be unaware of how to protect themselves.

Sherri Watkins, a writer/editor at the National Minority AIDS Council in Washington, DC, calls for new education programs directed at minority communities, where the virus is striking disproportionately.

A lack of information, particularly when it relates to sexual behavior, can bring unintended and potentially dangerous results. This SIECUS Report is designed to help educators develop new, effective prevention curricula.

EDUCATION

Dr. Peter Aggleton, director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit of the Institute of Education at the University of London, says the information young people receive about HIV/AIDS is often "too little, too late." He blames educators for focusing too much on who must be "taught," who must learn the "right attitudes," and who must become "skilled." Rarely, he says, is there concern about what people feel and what they do.

To help educators rethink their approaches to prevention education, we asked Dr. William Yarber of the University of Indiana to update the "Standards for STD/HIV Prevention Curricula in Secondary Schools" that he first developed for us a little over a decade ago.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Obviously, educators will need the help of the federal government to provide funds and support for their prevention efforts.

SIECUS Director of Public Policy William Smith writes in his policy update about the disturbing lack of action and funding on the part of the Bush Administration regarding HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

He says that at the heart of the problem is the Administration's focus on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that prohibit educators from giving information to young people that they can use when they become sexually active--and at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) in Washington, DC, writes that work on behalf of effective AIDS programs must increasingly be fought in the political arena. Yet, it is unclear if advocates are truly willing to take the risks.

"It may be safe to give advocacy speeches and blow whistles among like-minded people at an AIDS conference, but how many of us are willing to do the same when it could mean loss of government funding, loss of access to decision makers, unemployment, social isolation, personal experience of discrimination and stigma?" he asks.

We are including some proven strategies that policymakers may want to consider in developing new prevention programs.

First, "A 10-Step Strategy to Prevent HIV/AIDS Among Young People" is excerpted and adapted from guidelines developed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the World Health Organization.

Next, "Recommendations for Meeting the Global HIV Prevention Challenge" are strategies developed by the Global HIV Prevention Working Group.

I think they both provide clear, concise recommendations and ideas that are worth considering.

RELATED INFORMATION

We felt it was important to include an updated and expanded version of our Fact Sheet on Condoms with this SIECUS Report. It contains important information related to HIV/AIDS prevention.

Altogether, I feel that this "HIV/AIDS Update" contains a great deal of important information that individuals can apply to the development of new programs and curricula. I hope that you will use it in your work.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., Inc.
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Article Details
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Author:Edwards, Mac
Publication:SIECUS Report
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:683
Previous Article:Reason for optimism about comprehensive sexuality education. (Policy Update).
Next Article:True discourse key to prevention efforts. (From the President).
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