young adults. Comprehensive public health messages regarding STDs, including HIV infection; sexual abuse; and unintended pregnancy are essential.
With respect to the above issues, the committee makes the following recommendations:
- An independent, long-term, national Campaign should be established to (a) serve as a catalyst for social change toward a new norm of healthy sexual behavior in the United States; (b) support and implement a long-term national initiative to increase knowledge and awareness of STDs and promote ways to prevent them; and (c) develop a standing committee to function as an expert resource and to develop guidelines and resources for incorporating messages regarding STDs and healthy sexual behaviors into all forms of mass media.1
- Television, radio, print, music, and other mass media companies should accept advertisements and sponsor public service messages that promote condom use and other means of protecting against STDs and unintended pregnancy, including delaying sexual intercourse.
Improving Professional Skills in Sexual Health Issues
It is important that clinicians and other professionals develop knowledge and awareness of sexual health issues and become comfortable discussing them. This will enable clinicians to utilize clinical opportunities to effectively counsel patients regarding healthy sexual behaviors, and therefore improve clinical care for STDs. Communicating effectively with patients regarding sexual health is a particularly critical skill for clinicians and other professionals, but most are not adequately trained in communication and counseling skills.
With respect to the above issues, the committee makes the following recommendation:
- The Health Resources and Services Administration, health professional schools and associations, and schools and associations for training educators should support comprehensive sexuality training for health care professionals, educators, and researchers in order to increase their comfort working with sexual health issues and to increase their effectiveness in sexual behavior counseling.
Supporting Sexual Health Behavior Research
Population-based surveys and studies of STD-related health behaviors are