The lack of sex education and public awareness about reproductive health issues is a worrying trend that affects millions of young people globally. The article by Family Health International: YouthNet (2002) reveals that adolescents under the age of 25 constitute nearly 50% of new HIV/AIDS cases. This problem is particularly noticeable in developing countries that cannot dedicate sufficient resources to teaching young people about the potential dangers and diseases concerning reproductive health. For instance, the authors discuss how the interaction between cultural norms and poor socio-economic status can force young girls into unwanted marriage or prostitution (Family Health International, 2002). Although the article was published twenty years ago, a large number of these issues are still present in developing countries.
To resolve this problem, the authors discuss a series of intervention programs that can raise awareness among adolescents and improve their understanding of HIV/AIDS risks. FHI (2002) analyzed 39 academic research experiments to study the relationship between the intervention designs and their outcomes. Most of the examined works implemented the programs in schools, local communities, workplaces, and health facilities with the objective of engaging with young people. As a result, one of the conclusions is that the participation of adolescents in formulating policies about sex education is necessary since they are the affected stakeholders.
Moreover, after reviewing the research experiments in developing countries, the authors have suggested several guidelines concerning the effectiveness of intervention programs. Some of the recommendations might seem relatively obvious, such as increasing the budget for reproductive health policies and direct engagement with youth (Family Health International, 2002). However, some of the guidelines provide relevant insights into the problem. For instance, the marketing of condoms via social programs is a bold but effective method to speak with the youth directly. Stimulating peer interaction and communication concerning reproductive health issues is also a practical way to raise awareness among adolescents. After all, young people are frequently more likely to listen to each other than to unrelated adults. Ultimately, regardless of the chosen approach, the authors emphasize that direct engagement with the youth is necessary to increase the effectiveness of intervention programs.
Family Health International. (2002). YouthNet: Intervention strategies that work for youth.