Community-based sexual health curriculum produces positive results for border communities

Austin, Texas – – – February 21, 2011- – – The Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MI) shared some exciting news at the 138th Annual American Public Health Association meeting in Denver, CO.

MI was happy to report that their Paso a Paso: Building Healthy Families program – a community-based sexual health program – generated positive results among Hispanic 14- to 19-year-old adolescents.

The Paso a Paso program reached out to approximately 3,000 middle and high school students in Fabens and San Elizario, Texas. These two predominately Hispanic and economically disadvantaged border communities have a teenage birth rate that is 3 times higher than the national rate. The program aimed to motivate healthy goal-setting and avoidance of risky sexual activity to prevent consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy.

Teenagers in grades 10-12 attended approximately 6-10 age-appropriate sexual health curriculum sessions. The sessions provided information on anatomy, reproduction, contraception, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Topics such as life goals and healthy and unhealthy relationships were also covered in the sessions.

Program evaluation data show that the Paso a Paso program positively influenced its participants. Participant surveys over a 12-month period assessed sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviors; perceived peer norms; perceived peer behaviors; and parent connectedness. Survey data revealed that the participants acquired significant knowledge about sexual health and teen pregnancy and improved their attitudes toward abstinence. Follow up surveys showed that most of the participants retained their knowledge and positive attitudes after the school year ended. Furthermore, sexual risk taking in high school students was associated with other risk-taking behaviors such as drinking and smoking. Parent connectedness, on the other hand, was a detriment to youth sexual risk behaviors.

The results reveal that continued sex education — especially programs that focus on risk avoidance and teen-parent communication — are necessary and effective tools that help young people make better choices about their sexual health.

The Medical Institute hopes to continue the Paso a Paso: Building Healthy Families program and include more communities in the future.

The Medical Institute is a nonprofit (501c3) that empowers safe, healthy living by communicating objective sexual health information. Through research-based resources, the Medical Institute is helping people live safer, happier, healthy lives. For more information visit

Media Contact:
Sheetal Malhotra
512-328-6268 (phone)
[email protected]