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Sexuality education programs equip youth with knowledge and tools to engage safely in sexual activity and protect themselves from HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and becoming pregnant. Youth need to be educated about adolescent development, sexuality, anatomy and physiology, the basics about STIs, and the choices involved when engaging in sexual activity.

Advantages of Educating Youth about Sexual Health

Many youth initiate sexual activity during adolescence. It is important that young people receive early and ongoing sexual education to reduce the risk of HIV, other STIs, and pregnancy. Benefits of educating youth about sexual health include:

  • Informing them of normal adolescent development, puberty, and reproductive anatomy and physiology
  • Increasing their understanding of sexuality
  • Informing them of the option to delay sexual activity until they are ready
  • Helping them to understand the importance of using condoms if sexually active
  • Reducing new HIV and other STI infections
  • Reducing unwanted pregnancies

Youth HIV Facts

43% of sexually active high school students reported not using a condom during their last sexual experience.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Challenges of Educating Youth About Sexual Health

Talking with youth about sex, their sexuality, and preventing HIV can sometimes lead to tricky conversations. Difficulties that organizations face include:

  • Developing comprehensive, unbiased, inclusive approaches to conversations, lesson plans, and activities with youth
  • Finding medically accurate and relevant information on adolescent development, puberty, and reproductive anatomy and physiology
  • Describing gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and sexual health
  • Locating up-to-date information on HIV/AIDS to share with the young people they serve
  • Describing the roles both delaying sexual activity and condoms play in HIV prevention

The pages in this section provide practical tools and resources for developing inclusive sex education that addresses adolescent development, sexual health, and HIV prevention and treatment.

Toolkit Resource

This Adolescent Health Initiative Spark training on strengths-based approaches to adolescent health contains presentation slides and a presentation script.

Page last updated: April 2018