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Preventing HIV through Educational Development Programs

Sexual Health
Mary Guinn Delaney

An Interview with Jacquelyn Ingrassia

Providence, RI, 2 March 2016 

Journal: How does the work of UNESCO overlap with sexual and reproductive health?

Delaney: Our work in the region is consistent with our mandate within the UN System. Our efforts in sexual and reproductive health are historically associated with, and funded in part through, our role within the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV (UNAIDS), a cosponsored program among 11 different agencies in the system. Our mandate within that program, and as part of the UN system, is to support the right to education for all and, more specifically, to support HIV prevention among young people in the formal education sec- tor. Because of the characteristics of the HIV epidemic in this region, it can be quite difficult to persuade some governments to specifically address the issue right from the start. The HIV epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean is concentrated among men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and commercial sex workers. As you can imagine, these issues are difficult to address and are especially sensitive in the context of formal education. For these and other reasons, an important entry point for us is sexuality education, which is well established in many countries in the region. Through that, we address a series of other issues, which obviously include HIV but also address gender, communication, relationships among peers and adults, biology, prevention of abuse, and, of course, human sexuality and sexual health. All of these are im- portant aspects of comprehensive sexuality education.