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School-based sex education and knowledge of HIV among young adults in Albania

Ranee Seither, MPH1, Florina Serbanescu, MD, MPH1, Alban Ylli, MD, MSc2, Silva Bino, MD, PhD2, and Joan M Herold, PhD3. (1) Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop K-35, Atlanta, GA 30341, (770) 488-6223, rseither@cdc.gov, (2) Institute of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Rruga Alexander Moisiu 80, Tirana, Albania, (3) Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, 1516 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322

Background: Young adults account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide; one in three people living with HIV/AIDS are between 15 and 24 years old. By 2002, there were more young adults living with HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (430,000) than in other industrialized nations, including Western Europe and North America (240,000). Sex education is a key element for reducing risky sexual behaviors among youth. Data and Methods: Data from the 2002 population-based Albania Reproductive Health Survey (ALRHS) were used to assess knowledge of HIV/AIDS and the effect of school-based sex-education courses on knowledge among 15-24-year-old women (n= 2,030). ALRHS is a face-to-face, household-based survey of reproductive-age men and women conducted using a multi-stage sampling design. Results: Despite recommendations to include HIV in school curricula, just 55% of young women had received in-school education on the topic. Most had heard of HIV/AIDS (96%), but knowledge indicators were significantly higher among women who reported in-school HIV-education than those without such education: knowledge of HIV testing locations (21% vs. 11%, p=0.02), knowledge of asymptomatic infection (65% vs. 48%, p=0.01), knowledge of incurability (92% vs. 86%, p=0.08), and correct identification of both condoms and monogamy as effective methods of prevention (78% vs. 66%, p=0.02). Conclusion: General awareness of HIV/AIDS was high but specific knowledge was greater among young women who had received in-school education on the disease. Greater efforts must be made to increase in-school HIV-education; for youth who leave school early, alternative routes of HIV-education must be identified.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Reproductive Health of Youth: Poster Session

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA