Assemblymember Scott Stringer (D-Manhattan), the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York AIDS Coalition (NYAC) and Planned Parenthood of New York City called today on the city to speed up the development and implementation of the new public school HIV/AIDS prevention curriculum in light of the emerging problem of a possible drug resistant and rapidly progressive case of HIV.
“This recent development needs more investigation, but reminds us that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has not gone away. By not teaching our children prevention, we are leaving them unprotected,” stated Stringer.
Stringer, NYAC and Youth Organizers United (YOU) released alarming reports in 2003 documenting that 75% of school districts violated at least one State or City mandate for K-8 health education, including lessons on HIV/AIDS, and Sex Education and Family Living (FL/SE).
The city’s Department of Education responded by initiating a technical and factual revision of the HIV/AIDS curriculum, which had not been updated since 1991. However, the revamped curriculum has not yet been released or used in the classroom, as it currently awaits approval by the Chancellor.
“City schools have a legal obligation to provide HIV education to young people. Ideally, HIV education also needs to be a component of comprehensive sex education which, unfortunately, is not now uniformly taught in City’s schools,” stated Elisabeth Benjamin, Director of the Reproductive Rights Project of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Seven percent, or 659 of new NYC cases of HIV in 2003 were among youth aged 13 to 24. According to the NYC DOHMH, close to 30% of New York’s adolescents failed to use a condom the last time they engaged in sexual intercourse.
One case of a rare strain of HIV in NYC apparently resulted in an onset of AIDS within 2 to 3 months, and at most 20 months, after HIV infection. Yet, AIDS normally onsets 10 years after the initial infection.
"We have the tools to transform New York City into a center of excellence in HIV protection -- and not infection. The sooner we educate young people about abstinence, condom use and HIV, the faster they will make smart decisions to safeguard their health," said Joan Malin, CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City.