Nearly three out of every five high school seniors in Washington State reported being sexually active, according to the 2012 Healthy Youth Survey. Teaching those students – as well as those who haven’t yet had sex – about healthy relationships and preventing HIV and sexually transmitted diseases is crucial to their health, said a press release from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
A five-year grant, called Promoting Adolescent Health Through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention and School-based Surveillance, of up to $1.85 million awarded to OSPI by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will provide the necessary resources to teach HIV/STD prevention in the state’s high schools.
“The most effective way to help students learn about healthy relationships, and to help them learn how to reduce the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases is by educating them,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent of public instruction. “The grant we received from the CDC will help us do just that.”
The grant was given to 19 states and 17 school districts. In Washington, the grant will help districts build the capacity to deliver exemplary sexual health education that emphasizes HIV and other STD prevention, increase adolescents’ access to sexual health services and create supportive environments for students and staff.
OSPI will be collaborating with several state and national organizations, including the state’s Association of nine regional Educational Service Districts (AESD).
The grant totals $14 million nationally in 2013. It will allow the CDC to collaborate with state and national partners to decrease sexually risky behavior and increase the use of contraception and STD prevention among youths. It will also increase access to sexual health services and provide sexual health data through the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and School Health Profiles.