High school isn’t always about subcumbing to peer pressure, occasionally there’s a chance for teens to learn from each other. The students in Cleveland, Ohio High have started their own health program to teach fellow teenagers about the physical and emotional aspects of safe sex. The peer educators, under the guidance of Case Western Reserve University’s Infectious Disease Alliance, are striving to combat the area’s high rising teen HIV rate.
The idea is to reach teens before their sexual debut so they have information on how to have safe sex before they have sex,” Amanda Healan, a co-director of the grant-funded student program, told The Plain Dealer. “It’s a tried and true approach.”
The teens educate each other on safe sex methods and STDS. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio the STD statistics are alarming:
•In Cuyahoga County, there were 364 new HIV cases reported in 2012, bringing the total to 4,591 residents living with HIV.
•In 2011, blacks made up 67.2 percent of all chlamydia cases in Cuyahoga County; 77.1 percent of all gonococcal infections, which are caused by having gonorrhea.
•In 2011, 41.8 percent of all chlamydia cases in the county were teens aged 15 to 19 years old.
As part of their training, the teen educators take sexual education classes, participate in self confidence building activities, and learn first-hand from medical specialists such as nurses that specialize in sexual assault.
One heavily discussed topic is rape.
During one training session a boy asked, “You mean, if she’s drunk or high and says, ‘Yes,’ that’s still rape?”
The peer educator confirmed: “That’s rape.”