For decades, curriculum-based sexuality education has been a cornerstone of school- and community-based efforts to improve young people’s sexual and reproductive health, and more recently to prevent HIV infection. Unfortunately, public discourse about sex education has been mired in polarizing debates that distract attention from determining how sex and HIV education programs might best achieve the shared goals of many different constituencies. A recent comprehensive review of the impact of school-based sexuality and HIV education programs in developed and developing countries found that two-thirds of the programs reduced the risk associated with one or more reported sexual behaviors. This finding has led experts to recommend broad implementation of adult-led, school-based sex and HIV education that includes key characteristics common to effective programs. Yet, the ongoing HIV epidemic—increasingly affecting females and young people, especially in developing countries—and the human costs of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections underscore the urgent need to optimize sex and HIV education programs. Population Council analyses point to several key areas in need of rethinking, which are reviewed in this Promoting Healthy, Safe, and Productive Transitions to Adulthood Brief No. 22.
Haberland, Nicole and Deborah Rogow. 2007. "Sexuality and HIV education: Time for a paradigm shift," Promoting Healthy, Safe, and Productive Transitions to Adulthood Brief no. 22. New York: Population Council.
Rethinking Sexuality Education