Boston Public Schools (BPS) is applying for Component One and Component Two of the Promoting Adolescent Health Through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention program. The BPS program, Empowering Teens Through Health (ETTH) will reach 20,065 6-12 graders in 34 priority schools and ultimately all 27,581 6-12 graders in BPS.
For Component 2, BPS will leverage CDC’s resources and expertise to address health disparities evidenced by data analysis, particularly among youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth. BPS will catalyze comprehensive, sustainable change resulting in delaying the onset of sexual activity; decreasing rates of sex without condoms; increasing the use of contraceptives; decreasing risk behaviors that place youth at higher risk of adverse health outcomes including substance abuse, violence and mental illness; decreasing HIV infection and other STDs; decreasing pregnancy rates and increasing academic success over the next five years. Students in 34 priority schools will receive intensified supports, including evidence-informed sexual health education (SHE), strengthening access to and use of key sexual health services (SHS), and establishing and maintaining safe and supportive environments (SSE).
For Component 1, BPS will engage in School-Based Surveillance. The BPS High School YRBS is the primary surveillance tool used in Boston to monitor youth health behaviors, including unhealthy risk behaviors which contribute to the leading causes of premature morbidity and mortality among adolescent youth. The resulting data is used to describe the prevalence of health risk behaviors among all youth; evaluate trends over time; inventory, evaluate, and improve school programs and policies aimed to address these health risk behaviors; and develop key community partnerships to maximize the impact of activities. The addition of the middle schools through ETTH will expand the scope of data collected to reach and respond to a wider adolescent population. BPS will use the Profiles Survey to inventory health programs, services, and policies in all BPS MS and HS to identify gaps in current sexual health education, sexual health services, and safe and supportive environments. BPS will collaborate with community partners and use this data to target efforts in schools lacking health programs, services and policies, and distribute resources to schools where the greatest need is demonstrated. Narrowing the gap in sexual health education and services and implementation of comprehensive health policies will ensure that all BPS students have equitable access to quality resources and systems to maximize their potential for developing healthful behaviors.