Ensuring Equitable Access to High-Quality Sexual Health Care Services
Ensuring Equitable Access to High-Quality Sexual Health Care Services is part of SIECUS’ work to define, frame, and support a public discourse on sexual health and well-being and create a sexually healthy America. An individual’s ability to access high-quality health care, particularly sexual health care services, is essential to creating a sexually healthy America. While fundamental to our humanity, sexuality is also one of the most complex and politicized issues debated in the public health arena. Addressing sexuality and sexual health openly and honestly can be a powerful force for achieving significant outcomes in public and individual health, gender equity, and social justice.
This report aims to address sexual health care in a comprehensive and integrated fashion by: providing a political and financial overview of sexual health care services, including the federal policies and funding mechanisms that support access to services, as well as the barriers to accessing services; offering a definition of high-quality sexual health care services that integrates the often segregated aspects of care including reproductive health care and STD testing and treatment; examining the unique sexual health care needs of five subpopulations: adolescents, gay men and men who have sex with men, transgender and gender non-conforming people, the incarcerated, including those in the juvenile justice system, and the aging; and providing specific recommendations for ensuring equitable access to sexual health care services. It is our hope that by researching and summarizing what is currently in place and providing accompanying recommendations of what high-quality sexual health care services can look like in the future, this report will help move our field closer to ensuring accessible, affordable, and confidential sexual health care services for people at different ages and stages of life. Full Report
Sexuality Education in Mississippi: Progress in the Magnolia State
While recognizing the state’s alarming statistics for teen births, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and HIV/AIDS, it is important to acknowledge that Mississippi is making enormous strides in improving the sexual health and well-being of its young people. Before 2011, schools in Mississippi were not required to teach sexuality education or provide instruction on STD/HIV prevention—and if schools chose to teach either or both forms of education, they were required to stress abstinence-only-until-marriage. However, after the passage of House Bill 999 in the 2011 state legislative session, school districts were required to adopt and implement a sexuality education program into the school curriculum by the 2012-2013 school year. Sexuality Education in Mississippi: Progress in the Magnolia State takes a look at the sexual health and behaviors of teens in the state, breaks down the new sexuality education policy, and outlines the progress made and challenges discovered after the first year of implementation. Full Report
Raising Expectations in the Rockies: Colorado's Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Industry and the Imperative for Real Sex Education
In recent years, Colorado has shown an increased dedication to improving the lives of its young people through ensuring that sex education provided in schools is comprehensive; however, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are still prevalent in the state and continue to use fear- and shame-based tactics to spread misinformation and forward an ultra-conservative ideology. In an effort to inform Colorado’s residents of both the gains made in the state and the challenges local schools districts still face to implement comprehensive sexuality instruction consistent with state law, The Healthy Colorado Youth Alliance and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) released a report examining Colorado’s abstinence-only-until-marriage industry and the effect it has on Coloradan youth. Executive Summary | Full Report
Sex Education in Mississippi: Why 'Just Wait' Just Doesn't Work
Planned Parenthood in Mississippi and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) released Sex Education in Mississippi: Why ‘Just Wait’ Just Doesn’t Work, which outlines the status of sex education and failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Mississippi. The report found that young people in Mississippi are currently experiencing some of the worst sexual health outcomes in the country, and are also subjected to ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and restrictive laws that limit the ability of teachers and school districts to implement comprehensive sexuality education.... Executive Summary | Full Report
Making Prevention Work: Lessons from Zambia on Reshaping the US Response to the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
In 2008, SIECUS staff traveled to Zambia with partners from Population Action International to meet directly with those who shape how PEPFAR’s mandate is interpreted on the ground and those who experience the impact of that interpretation. In seeking out interviews and site visits in Zambia, we cast the net broadly in order to capture the fullest picture of the programs being carried out so far from Washington where PEPFAR was conceived; we met with PEPFAR grantees and non-PEPFAR funded HIV/AIDS program implementers, representatives from secular and faith-based organizations (FBOs), human rights activists, community leaders, peer educators, program participants, medical professionals, advocates, policymakers, officials from bi-lateral agencies, and religious and community leaders. These individuals are the ones living the reality of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia, and they are the ones who guided us through schools and dusty play yards where young people participate in HIV-prevention programs...Read More...
Sex Education in the Sunshine State: How Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs are Keeping Forida's Youth in the Dark
Millions in federal tax dollars and millions more in state taxpayer funds in Florida have been contributed over the past decade to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that use fear and shame-based tactics and egregious misinformation concerning sex, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) to persuade youth to remain abstinent until marriage. Moreover,
Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in Kentucky
In order to successfully advocate for comprehensive sexuality education in any state or community, it is important to understand the current situation. Statistics related to adolescent sexual health, for example, can help generate media attention and create momentum for policy change. Information regarding the current law and policy is vital in order to educate policymakers and help move them toward more proactive policy. Because of Kentucky’s specific priorities for abstinence-only-until-marriage funding, it is also important to understand the nature of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) and their impact on sexual health decisions. This section provides Kentucky advocates with some of the statistics and information they will need to move comprehensive sexuality education forward in their state. Read More...
Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in Alabama
Young people in Alabama face decisions about their health every day. Alabama has some of the highest teen pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in the nation. Yet, the information included in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs undermines health-promotion and disease-prevention efforts. These programs provide misinformation and censor vital, life saving information, harming youth. Alabama needs sexuality education based on evidence: public health strategies proven to reduce teen pregnancy and HIV and STDs infections among young people. Alabama’s youth deserve complete and accurate information free from bias so they can make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual health throughout their lives. Read More...
Legalized Discrimination: The Rise of the Marriage-Promotion Industry and How Federally Funded Programs Discriminate Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth and Families
Though the debate over same-sex marriage rights has been very public, the federal government’s attempt to “sell” heterosexual marriage as the ideal and only morally acceptable relationship has received very little attention. This special report examines the marriage-promotion programs and the federally subsidized industry they have created by looking at the history of the programs, the money, the messages they give both adults and young people, the under-the-radar convergence of both programs and funding, and the conservative social agenda behind these programs. We then take a closer look at how these programs represent a deliberate attempt to legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals, and the effect such programs and policies are having on LGBT youth, LGBT parents, and their children. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for policymakers that will put an end to these discriminatory practices and the waste of taxpayer money. Executive Summary | Full Report
PEPFAR in Vietnam: Are the Prevention Needs of Youth Being Met?
In 2006, SIECUS, along with Population Action International, visited Vietnam to meet with community leaders, government agencies, and nongovernment organizations. The purpose of this trip was to explore whether the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is meeting the needs of Vietnamese youth at-risk for or living with HIV/AIDS through its HIV-prevention programs. Our research shows that while PEPFAR has contributed to some progress in addressing the spread of HIV among youth, overall the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Vietnamese youth are not being met. This special report details the state of HIV/AIDS in Vietnam and provides a set of recommendations to make PEPFAR prevention programming more applicable to the realities faced by the country's youth. Read More...
Breaking the Promise: The Politics of Domestic HIV Prevention
Domestic HIV-prevention efforts have, in fact, been largely successful in the United States. A combined effort of activists sounding the alarm, educators conducting outreach, researchers testing scientifically based prevention methods, and policymakers enacting sound policies and investing needed resources has helped stem the epidemic in this country. Today, we see 40,000 new infections each year, and while this number is too high-even one new infection is too high when dealing with a disease that we know how to prevent-it is a sign of remarkable progress for a country of over 300 million people. Read More...
It Gets Worse: A Revamped Federal Abstinence-Only Program Goes Extreme
On January 26, 2006, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new funding announcement for Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) programs. With this call for new proposals, ACF is promulgating a series of new assaults on logic, science, and individual dignity and liberty. The new funding announcement-which adds an entirely new section and 3,000 additional words-represents a significant departure from previous announcements and in the process, seems to have checked both evidence and reality at the door. Read More...