One year ago today, health and education ministers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean committed to investing in comprehensive sexuality education and increased access to health services as a foundation for curbing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS.
Nearly every country in the region was in attendance at the unprecedented meeting, convened by the Mexican government in advance of the 2008 International AIDS conference. Ultimately, governments committed themselves to fundamentally changing the delivery of sexuality education in their countries, resulting in the Mexico City Declaration on Sex Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Unparalleled in its commitment by governments to address the important role that comprehensive sexuality education can play in improving the health and well-being of young people, governments agreed to key actions to promote the health and rights of young people.
“The Ministers established clear commitments,” said Sylvia Cavasin, Director of ECOS in Brazil. “In order to fulfill the Declaration’s targets, governments must now take prompt and focused action.”
The Mexico City Declaration’s ambitious targets include achieving a 75 percent reduction in each country of schools that do not provide comprehensive sex education by 2015. Countries acknowledged the role comprehensive sexuality education plays in introducing young people to the reproductive and sexual health services they need, and vowed to ensure that health services-including testing for HIV and STIs and counseling about condom use- are youth friendly. Governments also agreed to reduce the current number of adolescents not covered by adequate reproductive and sexual health services by half.Comprehensive sexuality education curricula that provide information about HIV/AIDS, sexuality and pregnancy, and also promote self-esteem, respect for human rights and gender equality in relationship are needed to prepare new generations for a future premised on gender equality and human rights. IWHC, along with partners at the International Planned Parenthood Federation/ Western Hemisphere Region and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States created a media advocacy kit to support our partners in their local, national and regional advocacy efforts.
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Moving forward, we will continue to work with our partners to fulfill the goals of the Declaration, and ensure a just and healthy life for all young people.