Smart Solutions|Health (January 2014)
Welcome to 2014! This is a good time for all of us to look back on the year we’ve just completed and look forward to what’s coming next. We can’t read your future, but we’re pretty sure transition, transformation and evolution will be part of it.
We were pleased to see some of you at the Center for Family Life Education excellent conference in New Jersey in December, where ETR’s Director of Professional Development, Debra Christopher, led a workshop on the adolescent brain and technology.
We had an award-winning end of year here at ETR. Staffer Laura Norvig won the annual member appreciation engagement award from the Nonprofit Technology Network, in acknowledgement of her helpful posts and community-building efforts in the NTEN community. It was well deserved—Laura’s mastery of social media is awesome!
Douglas Kirby, PhD, world-renowned researcher and ETR senior research scientist, died suddenly last December. He has received many posthumous awards for his important work, most recently the 2013 TeenNow California David S. Crawford Member of the Year Award.
We also learned that 11 of our new titles won 2013 National Health Information Awards. These are very competitive submissions, so it’s always an honor to be a winner of NHI awards.
Finally, 12 participants in ETR’s TEC (Technology-Education-Community) program, students from Watsonville High in Watsonville, California, were recognized in a national competition sponsored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Their winning submission was a mobile app they built to help other students in their high school navigate the path to college. Two of the students were invited to travel to Washington, D.C., with other national winners, most of whom were in college. The TEC students networked with peers, met with members of Congress and the White House Office of Science and Technology, and were selected to present at an official White House Briefing on youth and technology.
In one of my favorite stories of the year, TEC Director Jacob Martinez told me, “The girl who came with us had never even been on a plane before. During the flight to D.C., she talked about her plans to attend a local community college. After all of these fantastic experiences in Washington, she spent the flight back talking about planning to attend someplace like MIT, Stanford or the University of California.”
What a great story of successful and authentic transformation—something we’re big on here at ETR. Here’s hoping your work and your organization have a positive and transformative 2014. Forward!
Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES
Those of us at ETR who work in the area of sexual and reproductive health agree that healthy sexual development is an issue of human rights, and that coercion-free, violence-free relationships are essential to healthy sexuality. For over 30 years, we’ve pursued research that helps us better understand what promotes sexual health, as well as what interferes with it.
In recent years, our research has led us to bring more emphasis to the context in which sexual risk behaviors may occur among youth, particularly with respect to the importance of romantic relationships.
Using a Relationship Framework
Many current evidence-based HIV/STI and pregnancy prevention programs use an individual paradigm rather than a relationships perspective to teach content and skills. However, when we use a relationship-based framework, we’re able to support a broader constellation of content and skills, such as negotiating boundaries within a relationship, exploring intimacy without having sex, expressing affection and resolving conflict peacefully.
Video Picks: Vids & Media We Like
Smackdown: Broccoli vs. Kale
How would you promote healthy food? Michael Moss of the New York Times worked with ad agency Victors & Spoils to come up with a brilliant campaign for broccoli. We’re just sorry that it was an intellectual exercise, not a true campaign. Fun and enlightening. Watch. >>
The Video on Video Culture
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has completed a report on Americans’ use of online video. Learn more by—you guessed it!—watching an online video. If your attention span lasts more than two minutes, you can also read their full report. Watch. >>
Infographics Keep Making Complexity Clear
We love the power of the infographics being done by Information is Beautiful, and these two will make you see health information in completely new ways.
Influ-Venn-Za is a Venn diagram that actually offers meaningful information about who can catch which strain of the flu. Watch. >>
20th Century Death is filled with heart breaking shockers. Murder and suicide caused more death than war. HIV/AIDS surpassed only rabies in number of deaths, dwarfed by measles, diarrhea, smallpox, malaria and respiratory illness. Explore and find your own surprises (double click the screen to enlarge). Watch. >>
Dual Use Approaches to Preventing Teen Pregnancy and STIs
Late last year, several ETR colleagues and I presented at the Healthy Teen Network’s annual conference in Savannah, Georgia. The theme was “Embracing Innovation: Combining Science with Creativity to Improve Adolescent Health.” About 30 participants joined ETR staffer Bruce Weiss and me as we discussed strategies for addressing unintended pregnancy and STIs among young people through the dual use of long-acting reversible contraception and condoms.
Most teens who get pregnant aren’t planning to. In fact, over 80% of teen pregnancies are unintended. Many of these are due to failed contraceptive use—the condom breaks, a girl forgets to take a pill, teens let time lapse between a completed pregnancy and resuming the use of contraception. However, if couples use a contraceptive method with a low failure rate, such as an IUD or implant, the likelihood of pregnancy decreases dramatically. These types of contraception are known as long-acting reversible contraception or LARCs.
LARCs could be one of the most promising current solutions for reducing the rate of unintended pregnancies. While there are some myths and misconceptions, many years of research tell us that LARCs are not only safe for adolescents, but that many young women prefer them over other methods. Now that the Affordable Care Act covers contraceptive costs, more women in the United States will have access to LARCs than ever before.
From Research to Practice
Research: Help Those Kids Get Some Sleep!
Children get less sleep as they become teenagers, and some teens struggle at school and in other settings because of poor sleep. Hormonal changes, especially the decline of melatonin levels, play a part. But new research from the University of Cincinnati suggests that relationships with peers and parents may play an even bigger role. Other important factors include a sense of connectedness to school and associations with pro-social friends who care about academics, have a positive outlook and maintain good social relationships.
Practice: Building Connection
This study reinforces the importance of supporting children, youth and families in developing strong emotional bonds, and of creating meaningful connections between young people and their schools. When we as providers have opportunities to enhance connectedness in families, schools and communities, we are helping improve health in an impressive number of ways.
What’s Up, ETR?
Our latest quarterly report, Engaging the Dynamics of Change, is posted and ready for download or online viewing. Read about some of our forward-looking projects and see some of the ways we’re dealing with the organizational demands of our ever-changing world.
“Where’s My Catalog?”
Are you one of the loyal ETR customers who’ve been asking, “Where’s my catalog?” In an effort to streamline our process, we’re now mailing our catalogs quarterly. We’ve transformed our catalog into a magalog—part magazine, part catalog—that features the full breadth of ETR’s services and solutions, and also includes articles about our staff and their work. It has a different look and feel from the catalogs.
You can still find topic-specific e-catalogs in the familiar style at our ETR store website.
Let us know how you like the changes.
Retaining HIV+ Clients in Care
In previous newsletters, we’ve covered some of the new information about the power of social determinants to influence HIV care and the vital importance of helping people stay in care (for example, see Bruce Weiss’ column from the October newsletter). ETR’s Tabono CBA project, which focuses on building capacity in HIV-service organizations, has developed a Retention Readiness Indicator Tool that can be used to identify critical elements that can affect patient care. Download the tool here. >>
State-by-State Rankings of Sexual Health
Find out how sexually healthy your state is at the Sexual Health Rankings website. You can check out the overall index, or look at specific indicators such as gonorrhea rates, teen births, sexual violence and marriage equality. Check it out here. >>> back to the top
Working WISE-ly to Boost Comprehensive Sexuality Education
What’s the state of sex ed in your school district? Does your state have sound, science-based policies in place to support effective sexuality education? Are you in a district that considers it a political hot potato best left out of the picture? Are the schools in your area using untested and unproven curricula that may have no impact on students?
I’m the project coordinator for the California WISE—Working to Institutionalize Sexuality Education—Initiative, a foundation-supported program currently active in 10 states. We work with schools at the district level to bring about system-wide change that creates sustainable comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). Our model is helping schools in all of the circumstances described above make progress towards CSE that works. We help them establish programs that will build the knowledge, skills and behaviors students need to prevent STD and unplanned pregnancy, avoid sexual violence and coercion, and make choices that protect their futures.
Making CSE an Institution
What does it mean to institutionalize sexuality education? Basically, we want schools and communities to think about CSE the same way they think about an academic subject such as math. You’ll never hear someone say, “Well, if we have time, we’ll get around to teaching math.” We have state and district requirements around math performance. We test students to evaluate their progress. Checks and balances within the system help schools monitor and improve their efforts. In short, best practices in math education matter. That’s institutionalization.
The WISE initiative wants to see that same level of institutionalization for sexuality education.
On Topic: News of Interest
Making Testing More Attractive
Testing = knowledge, knowledge = power, and people who know they have HIV have the power to take steps to stay healthy and prevent transmission. So it’s a problem that 1 in 5 people with HIV in the U.S. don’t know they have it. How can we bring more people to testing? NPR describes a promising program called “Testing Together” that encourages gay men in committed relationships to (you guessed it) test together.
Fewer than 1 in 3 youth in the U.S. get tested for HIV.
Among U.S. youth, 60% with HIV don’t know their status. The National Prevention Information Network reports on a study that finds teens and young adults prefer rapid point-of-care testing—getting immediate results at their doctor’s office, a clinic or an emergency department.
Updates on HIV Testing and Risk Behaviors in MSM
A recent report from the CDC provides updates on HIV testing rates, positive tests and risky behaviors among men who have sex with men. Unprotected anal sex increased nearly 20% from 2005 2011. Recommendations for increasing testing and reducing risk are made.
HIV Prevention Meds Don’t Increase Risky Behavior
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is recommended in couples where one person has HIV and the other doesn’t. The medications significantly reduce risk but do not eliminate it, so individuals taking PrEP should still be using condoms. In a recent study looking at more than 3,000 HIV-negative heterosexuals on PrEP, there was no increase in risky behaviors with their HIV-positive partners. There was a slight increase in unprotected sex outside the relationship.
Sexual & Reproductive Health
Adolescents and STDs
Young people ages 15 to 24 acquire half of the nearly 20 million new STDs diagnosed annually in the U.S. In another of their excellent briefs, ChildTrends gives us the facts, figures, trends and resources we need to know about young people and STD—and a better understanding overall of why the problems exist. Definitely worth a look. >>
Next Gen Condom: Nanoscience to the Rescue!
The Gates Foundation received over 800 applications for their next-generation condom challenge.
Boston University won the Gates Foundation’s challenge to develop a better condom—including a $100,000 grant to aid in the process. Researchers hope to create a condom that is more comfortable and durable with the help of a new type of nanoparticle polymer coating. What will that do? Provide the possibility of a thinner condom, which reduces friction, which increases pleasure, which increases condom use, which decreases STDs and unwanted pregnancy. But wait. That’s not all! The new coating will incorporate antimicrobial agents that will further help prevent transmission of STDs.
Excellent plan. Let’s hope they can make this happen! Read more here. >>