JIS News

Thousands of students from high schools across the island are expected to benefit from the second National Sexuality and Reproductive Health Expo, which will be held on Wednesday, February 11 at the National Arena in Kingston.
The National Coordinator of the HIV/AIDS Education Programme in the Ministry of Education, Christopher Graham, told JIS News that 3,240 students from 107 schools have already stated their intention to attend, while other confirmations are coming in.
He said that the event will expose students to critical life skills and help them to make informed choices about their sexuality.
“We want to empower students to make informed choices regarding their sexuality and in so doing, we believe that this is an apt forum for students to interact with each other and to be exposed to these critical life skills, decision making, critical thinking, self awareness, negotiations, resistance skills,” he stated.
“We hope that all these skills will come out through the interaction with the various booths that are going to be there on the day,” he added, noting that the forum should prove especially useful to students beyond grade nine, when the health and family life education programme ends.
At the end of the day, the National Coordinator said, the hope is that students will become more aware of the various government and non-government agencies, where they can benefit from productive health services and counselling, and also become more comfortable with their sexuality.
He argued that if sex continues to be taboo, then pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among adolescents will increase.
“We want to make sure that they are comfortable with sexuality. We believe that if sex continues to be a taboo issue then experimentations will continue to be a part of how students react with each other as sexual partners and we will continue to see a rise in adolescents HIV infections and teenage pregnancy rates. So we are just hoping that at the end of the day, the students are comfortable with sexuality. They are more open to discuss certain issues, they have all the information they need and that we can do this in a participatory way that will really grab their interest,” he expressed.
The Expo is being supported by international and private sector partners, including the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); National Commercial Bank Foundation, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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