Teens For Testing is an innovative STI and HIV/AIDS education program targeted at high school students that includes in-school HIV testing. By engaging each other openly, honestly and directly, teenagers have an opportunity to impact the sexual health choices of their peers.
Teens For Testing in the news:
As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has evolved over the years, Conant Foundation has shifted its focus from educating gay and bisexual men about avoiding HIV infection to the new groups that are at risk of contracting this disease. More and more data shows that the epidemic is now affecting new and differing populations, such as women, minorities and youth. We have begun a new program that is designed to educate all teenagers about their sexual health and HIV/AIDS.
The CDC recommends getting tested for HIV once a year, unless you are specifically not at risk. As teenagers in this country are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages, it is important that these teenagers are taught that HIV testing should be an important part of their routine healthcare; however, educating teenagers about sexual health is not always an easy endeavor. Many social barriers such as religion, or even antiquated belief systems, make it nearly impossible to educate teenagers on sexual health in many communities across the United States.
Recent polls and studies indicate that teenagers are getting the message on the risks associated with sexual activity. An Indiana University study published October 2010 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that nearly 80% and of teenage males and 69% of females are using condoms as compared to much lower rates in adults. However, another poll showed that, despite extensive sexual health campaigns, nearly 60% of teenagers did not know where to be tested for sexually transmitted infections(STI’s), including HIV. Only 13% of teenagers have been tested for HIV according to the CDC.
Conant Foundation’s Solution – Teens For Testing:
The Teens For Testing program seeks to engage teenagers in a peer-driven model of sexual health education and introduce regular HIV testing as a part of their normal healthcare routine. Conant Foundation believes that testing teenagers, even before they are sexually active, will greatly reduce the anxiety, fear and stigma associated with HIV testing as they move into adulthood and the risk of infection increases.
The Teens For Testing program uses a peer-education model. Each program is unique to the individual school as it is designed, developed and implemented by students for their classmates. A team of student educators will research topics related to HIV/AIDS, educate fellow students about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and create and implement an HIV testing program in their school.