(Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ETR as an agency.)
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | September 6, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved oral Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis of HIV (PrEP). In a very short period of time, PrEP has substantially changed the HIV prevention landscape. It’s effective (when taken) and has an excellent safety profile.
How well is it working in different populations? I took a quick dive into some recent reports to get an update.
By Joan Singson and Suzanne Schrag | August 31, 2016
Program Manager and Editor/Product Manager, ETR
Do you like stories? Most people do, and, like Peter Seller’s character in Being There, “We like to watch.” Many of the evidence-based programs (EBPs) being used across the country, including many that ETR distributes, incorporate DVDs. Videos can be a useful and engaging strategy to hold participants’ attention, encourage fruitful discussions and allow youth to personalize information by relating to the characters’ stories and situations.
One of the most frequent questions we get concerning program adaptations relates to videos—in particular, whether videos can be left out or replaced with other videos. Often the question arises when facilitators do not think the included videos are representative of the youth they serve.
Here are some options to consider (and to discuss with program officers) when thinking about adaptations around videos.
Sign up for our free webinar, ETR Evidence-Based Programs Revisions Booster. This one-hour event will review recent revisions to our EBPs and answer questions. Wednesday, September 21, 10:00–11:00 am Pacific Standard Time. Learn more and register here.
By Vignetta Charles, PhD | August 29, 2016
Chief Science Officer, ETR
Do you work with adolescents? Have you ever faced situations like these?
Sofia is an excellent student, popular on campus and a delightful member of your peer health educator program. She knows everything about birth control, STI prevention and making smart choices. She loves educating her peers. She and her boyfriend come to see you one afternoon and tell you they are pregnant.
* * *
Ethan’s parents are shocked and baffled when their 16-year-old son, along with several of his friends, is arrested for underage drinking. One of the kids, highly inebriated, was driving the group around in his dad’s car. “Ethan is such a quiet boy,” they tell the police. “He’s never gotten into any kind of trouble.”
* * *
Milo is engaging, thoughtful, self-observant and easy-going—as long as he’s in a one-on-one situation with an adult. But as soon as he’s with his peers, he can’t stop acting out. He makes jokes, creates disruptions and sometimes teases classmates rather cruelly.
We all know that teens sometimes behave in these ways. But why? New developments in neuroscience actually give us some answers on this—and suggest several promising remedies.
We recently collaborated with the California School Based Health Alliance on a webinar describing and applying the new insights in developmental neuroscience. Our goal is to re-think and re-envision how we educate, raise and care for young people on their path to lifelong health and wellbeing. You can find links to the webinar recording and slides ("Survive or Thrive? Using Neuroscience to Re-Envision Adolescent Success") and information about other upcoming CSBHA webinars here.
By Cassidey Streber, MA | August 25, 2016
Program Coordinator, Youth Services of Tulsa, Adolescent Health/PregNOT
A student I’ll call Shay came in and sat at the back of my classroom. It was the first class meeting. Other students came bounding in, adding a bit of lively chaos to the mix.
I surveyed the students as they settled and we got started. I took note of Shay in particular. Shoulders up. Sighing. Arms crossed. Uncrossed. Looking out the window. Scribbling on a piece of paper. Not interacting with other students. Not looking at me. Not really there.
And then, as we got into the lesson, something happened. Shay sat up and began to watch me. Eyes furrowed, then a smile, then—amazingly—a question and comment from this student. Shay had become part of the class and was engaged in the lesson.
I know exactly what brought Shay into the process. In my language and the activities I brought to the class, I was offering a setting that was inclusive, authentic and safe for students of any sexual identity or gender. Shay, a student from the LGBTQ community, experienced the class as relevant and welcoming.
Cassidey Streber was one of the presenters in a recent webinar hosted by the Office of Adolescent Health. It is called, “How to Make it Happen: LGBTQ Inclusivity.” You can find links to the slides, audio recording and written transcript here. (Scroll down to June 2, 2016.)
By Pamela Anderson, PhD, and Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | August 23, 2016
Senior Research Associate and Senior Editor, ETR
What comes to mind when you hear the words “sex trafficking”?
If you’re like a lot of people, you might think of a sinister alley in a foreign country serving as the local red light district. Or you might imagine a woman who comes to the U.S. with hopes of a better life for herself and her family who is then forced to sell her body to pay debt bondage. Maybe you think of a young woman violently forced by a hated pimp to work the streets.
While all of these images do constitute forms of sex trafficking, they barely begin to tell the story. And as these disturbing pictures run through our minds, few of us add to our list the children and teens in our own communities. We aren’t likely to think of the students in our classrooms as they navigate the Internet or check their social network sites.
By ETR | July 19, 2016
Note: We're posting about some of the presentations ETR researchers and professional development specialists are offering at the Office of Adolescent Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantee Conference July 19-21.
Teen parents face a number of challenges. When a teen mother has a rapid repeat birth—a second (or more) child before age 20—the challenges become even greater. Almost 1 in 5 teen births is a repeat birth, and only about 1 in 5 sexually active teen mothers use the most effective birth control methods.
For the past 6 years, ETR researcher Pam Drake, PhD, has been collaborating with Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine on a project designed to support teen parents and prevent unintended repeat births. One strategy in the project is to increase the use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). These contraceptives, including IUDs and hormonal implants, are the most effective available today, and are safe for most women, including adolescents.
On Wednesday, July 20, Dr. Drake and co-presenters Mona Desai, MPH, Leslie Clark, PhD and Vivian Okonta, all from CHLA, are offering a poster describing how they measured the consistency of contraception use over time with the teen mothers participating in their project.
Pamela Drake, Mona Desai. Measurement Consistency of Contraception Use Over Time Among Teen Mothers. Wednesday, 7/20/16, 3:30-5:00 p.m. Poster #210 in the Evaluation Section, East Foyer of the Key Ballroom.
By ETR | July 18, 2016
Note: We're posting about some of the presentations ETR researchers and professional development specialists are offering at the Office of Adolescent Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantee Conference, July 19-20.
Learned anything new lately? Your brain is being bombarded by massive amounts of information every minute—sights, sounds, words, smells, sensations. What happens to all of that info? Thankfully, most of it is forgotten. Your brain takes a look at it and decides what to ignore and when to pay attention.
If you’re an implementer working with teens to build healthy skills for pregnancy prevention, you’ve got critical messages and skills you want these learners to attend to. What should you do? Use amazing brain science to make learning stick!
By Thao Ha, PhD | May 9, 2016
Assistant Research Professor, Arizona State University
Know any teens who’ve fallen in love lately? Chances are that you do. Most teenagers have been in love or have been involved in a serious romantic relationship by age 18 (Carver, Joyner & Udry). While teens often do not share their romantic experiences with adults, those of us working with adolescents—educators, health providers, researchers, community workers—need the best understanding possible of young people’s romantic relationships. Specific points before, during and after a relationship can create vulnerabilities in adolescents’ lives.
Romantic relationships offer teens wonderful opportunities to pursue some positive developmental tasks. But when things go wrong in a teen’s relationship, there is a potential to trigger a range of problems. These moments may also offer adults an entry into adolescents’ world at a time when our support can be invaluable.
By Barb Flis | April 14, 2016
Founder, Parent Action for Healthy Kids
Are parents resisting comprehensive sex education in our schools? They’re certainly taking the rap for this. I still wonder why this is so when the polar opposite is true—parents are far more likely to be allies and advocates.
Too often, when it comes to sex ed, we fear parents rather than embrace them. I’d like to suggest a re-frame. Parents can be powerful people when we need support for effective sex education in schools.
By Luca Maurer, MS, CSE, CFLE | February 8, 2016
Director, The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services at Ithaca College
Transgender people are in our families, our communities, our workplaces, our faith communities and our schools. They are part of the fabric of our society. Yet stigma and discrimination can make it extraordinarily difficult for transgender people to make their way in the world, and for everyone to learn accurate information about the lives and experiences of transgender people.
Professional development and training can play a vital role in preparing educators and providers to offer the best possible services to transgender people. By extension, better services can be offered to their families, and, ultimately to entire communities and our society as a whole. Training can also prepare us to be more effective in our professional (and often our personal) roles.
The effort is well worth it!
Luca Maurer is the coauthor, along with Eli R. Green, PhD, of The Teaching Transgender Toolkit, a collection of resources and lesson plans for teaching transgender-related information to a variety of audiences, including high school and college students, educational professionals, medical and social service providers, community groups and faith communities. The toolkit enables facilitators and trainers to provide the most accurate and effective practical training, toward the goal of increasing awareness, empathy and skills.
By Jacqueline Peters | September 17, 2015
Administrative Specialist & Trainer, ETR
The last time I was in DC was in the mid-nineties. Four presidents and two generations later, I found myself heading to the nation’s capital for the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). I would be representing ETR’s Community Impact Solutions Program (CISP) in our booth and around the conference.
I am new to the world of AIDS service and prevention, and this was my first foray into a national conference focused entirely on HIV/AIDS. I was excited. I was nervous. I was curious.
I was ready for USCA 2015.
By Tanya Henderson, PhD | September 3, 2015
Project Director, Community Impact Solutions Program, ETR
September 18 is the 8th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD). NHAAAD focuses on the challenging issues facing the aging population regarding HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment
The campaign, spearheaded by The AIDS Institute, seeks to:
At ETR’s Community Impact Solutions Program, we think it’s also important for everyone of every age to understand the message that unsafe practices can put anyone at risk for HIV. Whether you’re young or old, your age will not protect you.
Suzanne Schrag | August 13, 2015
Editor/Product Manager, ETR
John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on Sex Education has certainly been getting some air play around the country, as well as here at the ETR offices. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s well worth watching. (Note: Language may not be suitable for work—use your headphones just in case.)
Oliver points out the glaring inconsistencies in what young people in the United States are being—and not being—taught about sex. He offers up a very funny video at the end of the segment that would truly be a huge improvement to many of those that have been shown in sex ed classrooms across the U.S.
There’s plenty of bite, of course, in pointing out what’s not working, or what’s just plain wrong, about sexuality education in this country. But what is the best way to give kids the straight-up facts in a manner that will actually shape their choices and influence their behaviors?
By Brittany D. Chambers, MPH, CHES | July 28, 2015
Doctoral Student, University of North Carolina, Greensboro | 2014 Kirby Summer Intern, ETR
When you think about adolescent pregnancy, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Most people think about the negative issues.
“Dropping out of high school.”
“Depending on government assistance."
Research shows that adolescent pregnancy alone is not the cause of these factors. Why, then, do the majority of prevention efforts use “victim blaming” approaches to address the issue?
By Gina Lepore MEd | July 20, 2015
Research Associate, ETR
Yes means Yes. Yes, I want you. Yes, I want this. Yes, I want to be here. Yes, I am consciously choosing this now. Yes, I respect your boundaries. Yes, I will ask if I am in doubt. More, please!
Last September, California became the first state to pass legislation that sets a new standard for sexual consent on college campuses receiving state funding for financial aid. This legislative act followed policy changes on consent at several universities across the country. Systems have continued to adopt affirmative consent standards, including the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Although considerable progress has been made in recent years in supporting survivors of assault, the same is not true when it comes to changing attitudes and beliefs about the abusive approach to sex that causes assault in the first place.
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | July 15, 2015
Senior Editor, ETR
Yesterday, I heard that the United Nations had met their goal to treat 15 million people with HIV before the end of 2015. Officials were pleased to have reached this point early. The report also mentioned drops in the number of new cases and reductions in worldwide deaths from HIV.
There’s actually all kinds of encouraging news about the HIV epidemic. More people are accessing treatment, people with HIV are living longer, cases among children are down by 58%, tuberculosis-related deaths among people with HIV are down, and investments in prevention and treatment are up.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says we are on our way to an AIDS-free generation, and we can end the epidemic by 2030.
Like many others in the health care and prevention education worlds, this kind of news feels personal to me.
By William Spatafora | June 22, 2015
MPH Student, Tulane University | 2015 Kirby Summer Intern, ETR
“Why? He’s a boy.”
These were the first words out of my cousin’s mouth last month when I asked if her 12-year-old son had been vaccinated against HPV. “Isn’t the HPV vaccine given just to girls, to protect against cervical cancer?”
This is a common belief among parents—that HPV only poses a cancer risk for girls. The CDC, however, recommends girls and boys be vaccinated against HPV at age 11 or 12 (and, for those who miss that window, up to age 21 for males and 26 for females, or 26 for men who have sex with men).
Why would there be such a gap in beliefs about HPV vaccination for girls compared to boys?
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | June 18, 2015
Senior Editor, ETR
If your work involves talking to people about sexual health, you must be talking to them about STDs. Or STIs. Or both. Right?
As the great STD-STI terminology challenge continues, just about everyone has had to choose one term or the other. Well, everyone except for the people who use both interchangeably to mean the same thing. Or those folks who use each in distinct ways to mean different things.
I asked a few of my ETR colleagues to share their current thinking and preferred term for their work. Here’s what they had to say.
By Annika Shore, MPH | May 28, 2015
Professional Development Consultant, ETR
A study has recently come out that has everyone in my field talking. I’ve seen posts about it in newsletters and blogs about it on social media. Announcements were made in all my professional networks. This new study shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual teens are more likely to experience a pregnancy than their heterosexual counterparts.
I was happy to see that this new research was getting people in my community talking about an issue I care deeply about: the health and well-being of youth—especially the health and well-being of youth who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. However, this is not new information. This research confirms something we have known for many years and is not, in fact, “shocking.”
The shock people are feeling, I think, is due to the fact that this study requires us to reflect on our own assumptions about the lives and sexual behaviors of young people.
By Karen L. Parker-Simons | March 17, 2015
Health Education Coordinator, Florida Department of Health
I began working in HIV/AIDS Prevention in February 2007. At the time I had never heard of World AIDS Day, never mind National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. That first year it slipped by me without my catching it.
But, by 2008, I finally knew about it. National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is something very special. This wasn’t just another awareness day for which I would have to think up events. No, this day spoke TO me—it was ABOUT me! I am an American Indian from the Dumna/Kechayi Yokuts Tribe of California. Not only could I loudly proclaim to everyone in my Department, “Hey! Know what? There is an American Indian working in this section!” I could also take a very important message to the communities I knew and loved.
By BA Laris, MPH | March 12, 2015
Research Associate, ETR
In recent years, there has been a major shift in the way we approach HIV treatment and prevention. Research has shown (for example, see Gardner’s 2011 report here; and the AIDS.gov background here) that we will have our greatest impact when we focus on two major steps.
These are deceptively simple prescriptions. But if you work in HIV care and treatment settings, you know there are a myriad of physical, social and emotional issues that can make it difficult for people to stay engaged in continuous treatment. This challenge is one that our Community Impact Solutions team addresses in our work providing capacity building for community-based organizations. We develop strategies and deliver coaching and support to strengthen HIV programs. Our approaches are both research proven and real-world practical.
By Karin Coyle, PhD | March 3, 2015
Senior Research Scientist, ETR
Most evidence-based sexual health programs include skill development as a core element. This underscores the value of optimizing instruction for skills. Education literature provides guidance on the optimal instructional sequence for teaching behavioral skills. There are a number of other important considerations for skill instruction that compliment this type of instructional sequence, and some common pitfalls to avoid.
By Joan Singson | February 25, 2015
Program Manager, ETR
I used to walk in and out of drab motels and dive bars in the middle of the night, distributing condoms and encouraging people to test for HIV. Yup! Been there, done that. The strategies we used to help reduce the spread of HIV in the early 1990’s were not for the faint of heart.
Those of us who were involved back when old school was hip hop and Wu-Tang-Clan was the bomb could probably rattle off a hundred ways to recruit individuals for HIV counseling, testing and referral. Organizations were motivated by the message that “anyone can get HIV,” and funding streams asked them to cast a wide net and bring in as many individuals as possible for testing.
Since then, the business of recruitment has evolved.
By Alex Williams | December 1, 2014
Today is December 1, also known as World AIDS Day. Every year on this day there is a temporary global shift in attention to reflect on the impact of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In the United States, the day is marked by observances, reflections, tributes, concerts, ceremonies, memorial services and themed awareness-raising events.
In the United States, nearly 648,500 persons diagnosed with AIDS have died, and approximately 50,000 persons acquire HIV annually. Today, an estimated 1.2 million persons in the United States are living with HIV.
Although these figures suggest despair, there have been significant advances since the first AIDS diagnosis in June 1981. The theme for this year's observation is "Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation," noting the shift from widespread hopelessness to the eventual eradication of HIV.
By Karin Coyle, PhD
ETR's research team is testing some exciting new programs that ask middle and high school students to consider the ways romantic relationships influence their sexual choices and risks. We call this “contextualizing” sexual and reproductive health education—that is, using the context of relationships to build health-promoting information, attitudes and behaviors.