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Innovative pilot project helps reduce chlamydia rates among youth in rural Florida county

This is an excerpt from Promoting Health and Academic Success 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access by David A. Birch,Donna M. Videto & Hannah P. Catalano.

By Angelia M. Sanders


The purpose of this project was to reduce sexual risk behaviors and lower rates of sexually transmitted disease (STD) among adolescents in Madison County, Florida. Using a WSCC approach, the University of South Florida, Florida Department of Education, and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Program developed a project to address this problem with the support of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. Baseline data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) survey showed that more than two-thirds of students in 12th grade in Madison County reported having had sexual intercourse at least once and that the county had the second highest rate of chlamydia in the state among youth ages 15 to 19 years old.

Several strategies that promote DEI were incorporated into the overall project. First, although the project would help address STD among all students, it was conducted in a medically disadvantaged setting (rural Madison County) among students who were mostly Black and disproportionately affected by higher rates of STD. Second, a strong community participatory approach was used that integrated the voice and leadership of the community into the development and implementation of the project. In addition to the Madison County School District and Madison County Health Department, several other groups representative of the community as members of the Healthy Start Coalition of Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor Counties were key partners. Third, cultural competence strategies were enacted through the use of age-appropriate sexual health education curricula and materials, which were also used in school and various community settings (e.g., a Boys and Girls Club, churches, a community center).

Overall project activities included using Positive Action curriculum kits in schools to promote a healthy school climate; providing funding and staff to implement Making Proud Choices, an evidence-based comprehensive sexual health education curriculum; training health department and coalition staff members on the Birds and the Bees curriculum so they could teach parents how to educate their children and become advocates for sexual and reproductive health education; and training a leadership task force to expand HIV and STD prevention education to parents and youth in community settings.

The findings of the STD pilot project were positive. Although Madison County started with the second highest rate of chlamydia among youth ages 15 to 19 years old, in four years it ranked 40th in the state. Collaboration among the partners was sustained, and numerous community members (youth, parents, community agency staff) were educated on sexual and reproductive health for youth. There are plans to use the project evaluation findings to develop an STD prevention guidance document that could be used across the state (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, 2013).

More Excerpts From Promoting Health and Academic Success 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access