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Sexual and Reproductive Health

Sexual and reproductive health covers a wide range of health issues including:

  • HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases,
  • pregnancy prevention,
  • healthy child bearing,
  • and healthy sexuality throughout the lifespan. 

At present the work of NEA HIN focuses on the following issues: 

HIV/AIDS

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the body's immune system, causing a person to become vulnerable to infection.  Someone who is infected with HIV can remain healthy for a long time.  However, the immune system is weakened by HIV and the infected person may develop other diseases (also called opportunistic infections).  When this happens, the person is diagnosed with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). 

In the United States, half of all new HIV infections occur in people under the age of 25. Sexual contact is the primary mode of transmission in adolescents. Most HIV-infected adolescent males contract HIV through sex with men. Most adolescent females infected with HIV are exposed through sexual contact with men. African-American and Hispanic adolescents have been disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and are most susceptible to the disease.

HIV can only be transmitted through specific bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk). In the United States, HIV is most commonly transmitted through anal or vaginal sex or the sharing of needles with an infected person.  It can also be transmitted occupationally through exposure to blood or body fluids in the workplace.  This may include transmission through eyes, skin, or mucous membranes or a piercing of the skin. 

NEA HIN has produced  a pamphlet, The Red Book: Exposure to Blood and Bodily Fluids on the Job, What School Employees Need to Know. to help NEA members and other in the school community prevent occupational exposure.

Each year, NEA HIN presents the Ryan White Award to an NEA member or affiliate who has demonstrated a commitment to implementing or supporting innovative HIV prevention education programs. The award is presented each summer at the NEA Representative Assembly.

For more information about HIV/AIDS, including prevention and treatment, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Other Sexually Transmitted Infections

Other common sexually transmitted infections include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis, and Human Papillomavirus. For information on each of these, including transmission, prevention, and treatment, visit the American Social Health Association.

Additionally, NEA HIN has developed a fact sheet on Human Papillomavirus Virus and cancer.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Too early parenting impacts the lives of young parents in many ways including contributing to failure to complete high school, lowered earnings, and greater dependency on the social safety net.  Children of teen parents also experience more problems in school as well as greater poverty while growing up.  For information on effective programs and strategies for preventing teen pregnancy, visit the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unintended Pregnancy.

National Sexuality Education Standards

On January 9, 2012, the first ever National Sexuality Education Standards were published in the Journal of School Health.  The standards provide clear, consistent, and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum, core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in grades K-12.  The standards were the result of a cooperative effort by the American Association of Health Education, the American School Health Association, NEA HIN, and the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education in coordination with the Future of Sex Education Initiative.  Nearly 40 stakeholders including content experts, medical and public health professionals, teachers, sexuality educators, and young people developed the standards in a two-year process.