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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Sex education in New Mexico high schools: Is it adequate?

Eve Espey, MD, MPH, Department of OB-GYN - 4ACC, University of New Mexico, 2211 Lomas Ave. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131, (505) 272-6309, eespey@salud.unm.edu

Background: Sexuality education for high-school students in the United States is primarily abstinence-based. The majority of states require that abstinence be “stressed” and a small number require that contraception be “covered.” Evidence suggests that comprehensive sexuality education gives teens the information necessary to avoid STDs and pregnancy and does not promote sexual risk-taking behavior. The objective of this study was to determine the content of sex education in high schools in New Mexico. Methods: A questionnaire regarding the content of sex education was mailed to all teachers of health education (157) at each of the 127 high schools in New Mexico in April, 2002. Results: Ninety surveys were returned for a response proportion of 57%. Abstinence was covered and emphasized in 74% while only 42% included information on contraception. Seventy three per cent taught about sexually transmitted diseases, only 42% discuss the use of condoms to prevent disease. The majority of teachers (84%) indicated that contraception should be taught as part of health education, but only 58% felt it was adequately covered. The most commonly sited barriers to more comprehensive sexuality education are lack of time and lack of support from the local school board and from parents. Conclusion: Comprehensive sex education does not occur in the majority of high schools in New Mexico. More time should be devoted to sex education in the health education curriculum. Educating school boards and parents about the beneficial effects of comprehensive sex education could help create support for this program.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Adolescents, Sexual Behavior

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.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

School-Based HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Prevention

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