The Need for Sexual Health And STD/STI Interventions

Introduction

Knowing that a person is physically healthy sexually along with other health aspects should exists to be extremely important for the health of many populations. Many African American teenagers and young adults are not aware of their sexual status when it comes to Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Also, many teenagers and young adults lack education on STD/STI’s or feel uncomfortable talking about it with others. In addition, they lack funds for sexual materials and resources that can help keep them safe. Although everyone situation is different an intervention can help reduce or prevent the number of STD/STI’s among young adults and teenagers within that community.

An intervention can help bring awareness of resources, protection methods, and bring knowledge of factors that may play a role in sexual behavior. I would like for my program to help teens and young adults ages 16 to 24 to change their attitudes and beliefs on sex and build self-efficacy to speak out for themselves and not be afraid of getting tested. The program will help people have a voice to speak up for themselves and eliminate being shy on asking about status and protection. There is a lot of false information that is being miss communicated amongst individuals. The program will help the generations STD rates decrease because they will become more informed.

The main topics that are informative and forthright to understand why STD/STI’s are high are lack of education on STD/STI’s and sexual health, funds for sexual health materials, and lack of knowledge on resources that they can access. The articles that are presented are informative and include aspects from multivariable research-based studies.

Body of Evidence

STD/STI information exists on the internet and taught in schools but there remains a lack in education among teenagers and young adults. Through research there has been evidence that there are several reasons why there is lack of education. For instance, “some skeptics argue that sex education encourages promiscuity among youths and believe that this issue should be avoided so as not to “awaken the sleeping bear”. Second, while policy makers, educators, and parents witnessed that adolescent sexual behavior is getting “out of control”, they disagree on how youngsters’ problematic sexual behaviors can be minimized; and third, on whose responsibility it is to control our youths in this area.”1

However, in modern society as previously stated the internet is accessible to anyone. Research like this and the old way of thinking about sexual education has changed, so whether or not sexual health is taught in the school and it awakens the sleeping bear, eventually teenagers and young adults will find themselves viewing it without having full understanding of sexual health and STD/STI’s. Within research “based on the review, observations and implications for sexuality education policy and practice, as well as recommendations for future research for youths are outlined.”1 Several studies have been examined on the type of individuals who may want sexual education to continue and who may not. Within the research, “generally speaking, younger age, African American identity, attending religious services less frequently, higher education levels, lower household income, and being more politically liberal increase the odds of parents supporting sex education that includes a wide array of topics.”2 Though, individuals that are liberal or African American agree to continue these type of programs there is still a lack of education or communication somehow, and the question still exists why is the amount of STD/STI’s within this community high.

Understanding STD/STI’s is just one way of sexual health education that happens to be helpful. Another way would be helping young adults and teenagers understand how to protect themselves from receiving an STD/STI. Unfortunately, some African American teenagers and young adults do not have the funds to purchase protection or sexual products that can help with sexual impulses. In a qualitative study that explored the barriers for condom use discovered “young men would be more inclined to use condoms if they were made more available. In particular, participants described several situations that discourage condom use such as the lack of physical and safe access to condoms, affordability, knowing and enjoying the feel of sex without a condom, condom breakage, and the belief that sexual health could be ascertained visually.”3 One of the participants within the study proceeded to state that sometimes the only way an individual will use protection is if he’s getting it free, because if he has to come out of pocket to get protection to have sexual relations he will not purchase it.3

However, many are unaware of where to receive free condoms which is another reason sexual health education is important, but with studies like this one with the sample size for the qualitative interview being small there might be more people that can’t afford it.4 Future researchers should go to more than two neighborhoods to survey. Although the sample size was small in the study within the united states, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) condom use remains an “essential intervention to eradicate AIDS, and condom use is now higher than ever.”5 “However, free and subsidized condom funding is declining.”5 Whether in the country or internationally sexual materials are not affordable for young adults or teens.

Equally important, young adults and teenagers need to be informed of the resources they have within their communities and in public health or healthcare services. Having a sexual health program will help them be aware of where they can find free condoms in their area. As stated previously, sexual materials are not affordable. These materials are not cheap when you are not aware of where to look and an intervention can assist with this. Sexual activity is prevalent among teenagers and young adults “However, young people seldom utilize sexual and reproductive health services and subsequently suffer from poor sexual and reproductive health.”6 A recent study, in the opinion of Thongmixay and colleagues discovered that “The main barriers preventing young people from accessing sexual and reproductive health services were related to cognitive accessibility and psychosocial accessibility. The cognitive accessibility barriers were a lack of sexual knowledge and a lack of awareness of services. Perceived barriers in psychosocial accessibility were the feelings of shyness and shame caused by negative cultural attitudes to premarital sex, and the fear of parents finding out about visits to public sexual and reproductive health services, due to lack of confidentiality in the services and among health providers. In addition, the barriers of geographical accessibility, mainly insufficient availability of youth-friendly health clinics.”6

Similar an online randomized control study discovered that having an intervention which is a part of resources that they need is worth establishing. The authors stated “At immediate posttest, girls who completed the HEART program demonstrated better sexual assertiveness skills measured with a behavioral task, higher self-reported assertiveness, intentions to communicate about sexual health, knowledge regarding HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), safer sex norms and attitudes, and condom self-efficacy compared with the control condition. At 4-month follow-up, group differences remained in knowledge regarding HIV and other STDs, condom attitudes, and condom self-efficacy.”7 These interventions are working on some, and progress is being shown with these studies. Yet, there needs to be more out there in society because there are some young people that are not getting the right education on sex or having the funds to protect themselves.

Conclusion

STD/STI’s and sexual health education are very important and remain extremely needed for young people. However, some research studies did not have enough participants and some patterns were not clear within the research, but moreover studies showed how much the young society needs sexual health interventions in a positive way. The results from those studies showed how much knowledge the teenagers and young adults learned from the interventions and was able to receive sexual materials as well. For instance, according to CDC one benefit happens to be “school programs, such as condom availability programs, school-based STD screening events, and sexual health awareness campaigns, can improve students’ beliefs and attitudes about condom use and STD testing, and their use of SHS (Sexual Health Services).”8 There are also some studies mentioned above that shows positive outcomes from the sexual health programs. Furthermore, in these changing times researchers are using different methods to improve programs and in a recent study the researchers explored “Using intervention mapping as a systematic process to develop interventions is a feasible approach that specifically integrates the use of theory and empirical findings.”9 According to Healthy People 2020 “Each state must address system-level barriers to timely treatment of partners of persons infected with STDs, including the implementation of expedited partner therapy for the treatment of chlamydial and gonorrheal infections.”10 Timely treatment for an infected person is also another improvement that health care services need to improve on for the future as well. Through research these studies have provided insight on why intervention programs are needed for STD/STI’s and sexual health. This information on why sexual health intervention is important is not just based on the negative reasons but also on the positive outcomes they have on young people.

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