This community-based participatory research study explores African American youth and adult perspectives on sex education and its impact on HIV/AIDS in their rural North Carolina communities. Despite potential bias, both youth and adult participants consistently point to abstinence-until-marriage sex education policies as barriers to youth sexual health and HIV prevention in their communities. Some participants believe the shift from comprehensive sex education to abstinence-until-marriage policy in public schools contributes to increased incidence of HIV/AIDS. The study identifies political opposition, teachersÕ fears of inadvertently violating sex education policies, parents withholding consent for sex education, lack of comprehensive sex education advocacy efforts by local residents, and fiscal concerns as key barriers to implementing a comprehensive sex education policy in public schools. While the results may not be generalizable, this study adds to the literature supporting public schools as a critical point of intervention for HIV prevention, especially for southern rural communities in the United States.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy challenges barriers to the rights and health of people affected by HIV through legal advocacy, high-impact policy initiatives, and creation of cross-issue partnerships, networks, and resources. We support movement building that amplifies the power of individuals and communities to mobilize for change that is rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice.