Geographical Information System shows community-based sexual health program to be a success

Austin, TX – – – March 4, 2011 – – – Thanks to some innovative technology, the Medical Institute for Sexual Health is able to measure the effectiveness of its Paso a Paso: Building Healthy Families program.

To assess the effectiveness of their sexual health education program for youth, the Medical Institute (MI) utilized technology to show how sexual health outcomes were changing in their program areas. MI used Geographical Information System (GIS) — a mapping tool — to identify and compare trends and changes in teen births and sexually transmitted infections geographically as well as temporally in predominately Hispanic, poverty-stricken school districts in El Paso County, TX. Although the program had received rave reviews and appreciation from the local youth, parents and schools, these data were able to show tangible improvements in youth sexual health status of the community.

Data on chlamydia infections and teenage birth rates for the program areas — two school districts in El Paso County, TX – were obtained and compared to data from non-program area school districts. These data were then mapped by “geocoding” — assigning a location — and placed on a map for comparison. These GIS maps allowed easy visualization of trends and changes in rates. The maps showed a difference in chlamydia and teenage birth rates between the program and non-program areas in the 2007-2009 academic school years. The maps also showed a decrease in teen birth and chlamydia rates in program areas after the program was provided.

The GIS application showed how technology can be used to evaluate the effect of the programs on whole communities. These maps easily show the positive changes in teen birth and chlamydia infections in communities participating in the Paso a Paso program. The results also show a need for sexual health education in non-program areas.

The Paso a Paso: Building Healthy Families program provides a community-based sexual health education program and increases knowledge of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The program also promotes goal-setting, relationship skills and sexual risk avoidance for middle and high school students. The program is provided to youth as well as parents and community members to provide a consistent message to youth to focus on their life goals and stay away from risky behaviors. Seeing these positive results has driven a demand for the Paso a Paso program in other communities nationwide.

The Medical Institute presented the innovative use of GIS to assess program effectiveness and positive results for Paso a Paso: Building Healthy Families program at the 138th Annual American Public Health Association meeting in Denver, CO.



The Medical Institute is a non-profit (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, healthier lives. For more information, visit
Media Contact:

Sheetal Malhotra
512-328-6268 (phone)
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