Medical Institute’s Current and Past Projects
MI has partnered with key individuals and organizations, on all sides of the sexual health issue, to influence leadership everywhere to call for and promote the healthiest behavior. Some past and current MI work includes:
- MI has worked on a community based abstinence education (CBAE) program Paso a Paso: Building Healthy Families in two school districts in El Paso County, TX. This community-based abstinence education (CBAE) program was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. The program provides education to adolescents, parents, and other community members about sexual health issues to reduce teenage pregnancy and STIs in the program areas. The program objectives promote the practice of sexual risk avoidance to about 2500 youth currently attending middle and high schools in the program ISDs.
- In the Connecting Parenting Adults and Youth project, MI and its partner World Vision train educators nationwide — helping parenting adults communicate with their children about sexual health. This curriculum has been modified through funding from the CDC and is now available in Spanish and English nationwide. At least 40 community educators are being certified as Building Family Connections trainers each year at Train-the-Trainer events. These trainers then host classes for parenting adults in communities across the country. The goal of the Building Family Connections/Construyendo Familias Unidas (BFC) parenting curriculum is “to build the capacity of parenting adults so they can assist youth to grow up safe, smart, and strong.”
- Due to the great need to educate abstinence and sex educators about Medical Accuracy, MI developed an innovative online training on how to search PubMed databases and the Internet to find medically accurate health information. The training also introduces strategies for evaluating the medical accuracy of information found in the media, medical journals, and Internet. The Online Medical Accuracy Trainings available since 2008 have been very informative and useful. Evaluation shows that participants who complete the training have an increased ability to identify search engines or databases with evaluated medical information, to retrieve full text articles, to identify indicators of medical accuracy, and become familiar with strategies regarding the use of PubMed.
- The STD Wizard is an interactive online tool based on the CDC STD Treatment Guidelines. This tool provides users with individualized screening recommendations that are based on their behaviors and other risk factors. The STD Wizard allows youth to analyze their risk for STIs based on their demographics and behaviors, and it recommends tests and vaccines based on the responses given (www.stdwizard.org).
- MI has also completed a CDC-funded project to develop the National Curriculum Guidelines for Sexual Health Education K-12 and to develop linguistically and culturally appropriate HIV prevention fotonovelas for Hispanic youth, including It Happened to Me/Me Pasó a Mi and Worth Waiting For/Vale La Pena Esperar. Fotonovelas, a popular form of illustrated reading material, are a very effective medium for delivering HIV prevention messages to adolescents and young adults in the Hispanic community, particularly those who experience literacy challenges. The National Curriculum Guidelines for Sexual Health, K-12 provide evidence-based age-appropriate developmental messages for school age children. Educators, school board members, and parents can use the guidelines to develop, choose, or evaluate curricula.
- MI coordinated the needs assessment and development of sexual health curriculum guidelines for US medical schools. Developed by a diverse panel of experts, these guidelines can help medical school faculty to produce sexual health curricula that address STI risk avoidance and risk reduction strategies. This information will help physicians to counsel patients about behavior change and reverse the STI epidemic.
- The El Paso Border Health Project was initiated in 2003 to mobilize and educate community members about sexual health issues. The goals of these educational initiatives are to improve the sexual health of El Paso area residents by reducing poor health outcomes such as sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. To date, more than 200 promotoras have completed the Promotora Curriculum and have received Spanish-language instruction and materials in continuing education classes at ten sites in El Paso. This 18-module, culturally and linguistically appropriate curriculum was developed to teach sexual health concepts. These include basic sexual and reproductive anatomy and function; prevention of unintended pregnancy, STDs, and HIV/AIDS; and promotion of the sexual health benefits of abstinence. In response to community requests, an 8-module abbreviated version was developed to address the needs of grandparents to speak to and counsel their grandchildren on sexual health issues. The medically accurate Grandparent Curriculum, La salud de mis nietos es Primero, addresses adolescent sexual health and empowers grandparents and parenting adults to encourage their families to achieve optimal health.
- In 2006, with the generous funding of Paso del Norte Health Foundation, youth and adult conferences were presented by MI and El Paso community partners, including the Diocese of El Paso and the Center Against Family Violence. The youth conference hosted adolescents and adults who attended presentations on peer pressure, sexual risk behaviors and consequences, marriage and fidelity, and dating violence and abuse. Evaluations revealed significant increases in awareness of dating violence and resources for victims as well as knowledge of STDs. The majority of participants stated that the information they received at this conference would help them make better decisions about sexual activity and avoid peer pressure to have sex.
- Educational offerings include National Conferences, community seminars, webinars, medical meetings, and meetings for abstinence educators. Over the last decade more than 6,000 people interested in abstinence education have attended MI-sponsored events. MI has been invited by ~40 communities to conduct interactive 2-day Change Makers community mobilization seminars. At this capacity building event, more than 2,000 abstinence education providers, community leaders, and parenting adults have been empowered to equip adolescents to choose the healthiest sexual behaviors. A variety of topics have been covered in the national and regional meetings to equip attendees with knowledge on diverse topics, such as sexual health, federal funding, parent-child communication on sex, building community partnerships, and medical accuracy. MI has also conducted numerous school-based sexual health presentations and conferences for middle and high school students. MI also conducts meetings and seminars to educate parents on today’s sexual heath issues and to empower parents to start a lifelong conversation with their children in sexual health decision making.
- Clinical Intervention seminars, which teach healthcare professionals how to take sexual histories and counsel patients on risk avoidance and risk reduction, have been attended by ~300 healthcare professionals.
- For the Media Impact study, MI and the University Of Texas School Of Public Health reviewed 2500 journal articles to assess the impact of media exposure on adolescent sexual behavior and attitudes. MI staff also provides many educational resources in the form of written materials. MI senior staff routinely writes reports in response to persistent sexual health issues raised by the community.
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