The Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex With Men & HIV (MSMGF) has released the results of a new global survey on HIV prevention strategies, which revealed that less than half of the world’s men who have sex with men (MSMs) have access to HIV prevention education.
The results aren’t terribly surprising but give a strong research backing to the anecdotal evidence about inadequate sex education and the wide variety of sex education information/programs people have access to, as we saw here in our open thread post on sex ed.
Canada might provide more school-based sex ed on the whole than the United States, but there are still strong variations based on provincial regulation and whether classes are provided by teachers or nurses. I had a pretty good experience with public school sex ed here in BC, but I have friends who got very little information. But of all the provinces, Alberta might be the worst, allowing parents to take their kids out of sex ed entirely if they object to the lessons.
Doctors Wells and Doherty from the U of A Faculty of Education outlined their concerns with Alberta’s sex ed system in the Edmonton Sun: ““This becomes a public health imperative,” Wells explained. “What kind of harm are we doing to our children by not providing them with this information?”
Indeed, Xtra.ca points out:
Macleans is reporting on a cluster of syphilis cases in Alberta, including tragic cases of congenital syphilis that have left nine infants dead and adult cases of untreated syphilis leading to neurological and heart disorders. Unfortunately, the article’s author has buried the lede under a whistful account of 19th-century dramatist Henrik Ibsen’s syphilis play Ghosts.
Way down in the article’s second-last paragraph, the author gets to the point:
“Others wonder if conservative mores have been part of the drama. “Our sex ed is a patchwork, with little strong guidance from the top,” warns Pam Krause of Calgary’s Sexual Health Centre. “People are okay to deal with certain things, but we’re still suffering from a lack of normalization of the harder topics.” Even medical education in Alberta, she suggests, has allowed Victorian morality to interfere with the struggle for teaching resources.”
Lest we forget, in 2009, Alberta passed Bill 44 forcing teachers to notify parents in advance about any classroom discussions of sex or religion, giving parents the right to opt their children out.
Instead of making sure kids in schools have comprehensive sex education, Alberta’s idea of making young people aware of STIs apparently involves unclear satirical ad campaigns like “Plenty of Syph”.