The ABCs of STDs: Sexual Health Educators Recommend Online Resources for Youth Workers
In honor of Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month, in April, NCFY asked two longtime sexual health educators to recommend their favorite online resources on STDs.
Monica Rodriguez is president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, or SIECUS. Deborah Mathis is administrative chief of women’s health at the University of Pennsylvania’s Student Health Center.
Here are the sites they recommend:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sexual Health Pages
Mathis likes the CDC’s accurate, easy-to-read Web pages on a range of sexual health topics. “They make a great stepping stone,” she says.
Offerings include interactive charts on reported rates of various STDs by age and PDFs of young people’s STD rates in each state, as well as bilingual STD fact sheets.
“The CDC just amped up their site in time for STD Awareness Month,” Rodriguez says. “They’re ramping up their social media presence and featuring resources that are really good for consumers finding out about STDs and for professionals working in the field.”
One of the CDC’s primary campaigns is Get Yourself Tested, a partnership with the Kaiser Foundation and MTV. GYT helps young people, who get STDs at a higher rate than adults, find testing sites and resources in their communities.
“GYT is [a resource] I love particularly because it’s marketed directly to young people, and young people are directly involved in developing some of the campaign materials,” Rodriguez says.
American Sexual Health Association
Both Mathis and Rodriguez recommend the nonprofit ASHA’s up-to-date sexual health information. The group’s website has separate pages with information on most STDs, a safer sex toolbox, and pages for men, women, teenagers, LGBTQ youth and other groups. You can also order low-cost pamphlets and materials.
Rodriguez says ASHA does a lot of work on herpes and human papillomavirus, or HPV, and so is a good resource on those diseases.
Though Scarleteen is geared toward young people, Rodriguez says it has good information for youth workers, too. The dizzying number of topics covered include physical development, sexual health, birth control, STDs, relationships, gender and sexual identity and young people’s rights.
You might want to refer older teenagers and young adults with questions about STDs to Text Scarleteen or the site’s message boards. Scarleteen also has over 1,000 answers to real-life questions, extensive lists of resources on various topics, a blog co-written by adults and youth, and over 200 articles, guides and factsheets, all searchable by topic in the lower left corner of the home page. Youth looking for crisis support and referrals can find them on Scarleteen, too.
Teen SENSE Project at the Center for HIV Law and Policy
The Teen SENSE Project recently published the first set of standards meant to guarantee sexual health care for young people in detention and other types of state custody.
“Juvenile justice is a high-risk population, and one where the staff doesn’t always feel comfortable talking about sexual health care,” Rodriguez says. The Teen SENSE standards are explained in fact sheets and PowerPoint slides. These resources mainly focus on youth in juvenile justice facilities, but also discuss foster care and the importance of addressing the needs of LGBT youth.
“You might have to tweak it a little bit, but it would absolutely to apply to runaway and homeless youth programs,” Rodriguez says.