RI Healthy Youth Initiative

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health supports state, territorial, and local agencies to help build and strengthen their capacity to improve child and adolescent health. The RI Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received competitive funding through the CDC-RFA- PS13-1308 Promoting Adolescent Health Through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention and School Based Surveillance (August 1, 2013 – July 31, 2018).

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Rhode Island established a state level School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) with representation from RI school districts, including priority districts, state agencies and key stakeholders to support the implementation of program and planning activities of the School-Based HIV/STD Prevention grant’s four approaches including: providing exemplary sexual health education, accessing sexual health services, creating safe and supportive environments and related policies.

Districts receive professional development, technical assistance, research and tools on evidence based curricula, model policies, team building, parent engagement, and school connectedness strategies to reach all students especially those at greatest risk. Districts will also participate in a local needs and performance reporting to inform the development and use of tools to ensure compliance with related state mandates, as well as benefit from networking opportunities with other districts and community based organizations.

Strategy One – School-Based Surveillance

The CDC provides funding for state, territorial, and local education agencies and state health agencies to establish and strengthen systematic procedures to collect and report Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and School Health Profiles data for policy and program improvements.

Strategy Two – School-Based HIV/STD Prevention

CDC provides funding for state and local education agencies to help districts and schools deliver exemplary sexual health education emphasizing HIV and other STD prevention; increase adolescent access to key sexual health services; and establish safe and supportive environments for students and staff. States and districts track policies, educate key decision makers on policy issues, and help districts and schools implement policies related to HIV/STD prevention.

Approaches to HIV/STD Prevention:

  • Sexual Health

    Exemplary Sexual Health Education program characteristics:

    • medically accurate;
    • consistent with scientific evidence;
    • tailored to students’ contexts and the needs and educational practices of communities;
    • use effective classroom instructional methods and;
    • allow students to develop and demonstrate developmentally appropriate sexual risk avoidance and reduction related knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices.

    Research demonstrates that designed and well implemented HIV/STD prevention programs are effective in decreasing sexual risk behaviors among youth. Specific outcomes include:

    • Delaying first sexual intercourse
    • Reducing the number of sex partners
    • Decreasing the number of times students have unprotected sex
    • Increasing condom use
  • Health Services

    Preventive services can reduce risk behavior and promote the testing and treatment of infections to help stop the spread of STD and HIV.

    National guidelines include recommendations for the provision of sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents.

    Early testing for HIV and STDs establishes its role in prevention.

    CDC recommends vaccination of young adolescents against HPV, largely because first infection is often acquired shortly following sexual initiation and because people have better immune response to HPV vaccine at younger ages.

  • Safe Environments

    Research has identified promising practices to create safe and supportive environments including:

    • creating and enforcing a schoolwide anti-bullying and harassment policy;
    • improving the supervision of students;
    • using school rules and behavior management techniques in the classroom as ways to keep students safe and;
    • fostering prosocial attitudes and positive health behaviors

    Parent engagement and school connectedness are protective factors for positive adolescent sexual and reproductive health risk behaviors and outcomes.

    Youth who feel connected to school and have engaged parents are also less likely to become involved in substance abuse, violence, and other problem behaviors that are associated with HIV and STD risk.

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