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Opinion: World AIDS Day



Can you imagine a world where insurance companies have to recruit volunteers from high school to teach other students how to drive safely?  Where drivers ed classes only talk about how often seatbelts fail, and never say that they save lives?  Where churches preach just not driving until you are licensed?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  And yet, when it comes to the health and safety of our teens, that’s exactly what we do with sexuality education.  Trained educators and community organizations are not allowed to teach in our schools and so they end up training peer educators to help students learn about their sexual health.

In many school districts in Nevada, students are getting abstinence-only-only-only-until-marriage education.  These programs only preach sexual abstinence, which we is the best and only 100% effective method for avoiding pregnancy and preventing disease.  It also doesn’t work.  Nor does it acknowledge the fact that many of our students have had or are having sex.  Even worse, many abstinence-only programs do not talk about contraception or condoms … and if they do, they only stress failure rates, not benefits or effectiveness.

We know that students who get abstinence-only do not wait any longer before they start to have sex.  And when they do start having sex, they are much less likely to use birth control or condoms.

The fact of the matter is that well over 90% of all Americans will have premarital sex.  And even those Americans who wait until they are married are likely to want to have two or three kids at most.  American women will spend almost 30 years of their lives trying NOT to get pregnant.  Doesn’t it make sense to give young people the tools and information they need to achieve their goals?

Much more seriously, thirty years after the first diagnoses of what many call “the gay disease” (AIDS), the face of HIV/AIDS in America has changed radically. One in three new HIV infections in the United States are among young people, and girls are particularly at risk.

Making it criminal to only tell young people that condoms fail and never acknowledging that they are extremely effective in preventing the transmission of HIV when used correctly, every time.

Young people don’t have the information they need because people in positions of responsibility are squeamish about talking to young people about sex.  It’s not fun, but are we ready to have our children die because we’re uncomfortable?  I hope not.  If you’re a parent, please talk to your kids about sex, waiting until they’re ready, and being safe when they do become sexually active.  And tell your legislators to vote for Comprehensive Sex and Violence Prevention Education in Nevada.

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