County-wide STI prevention policy implemented at Poolesville High School

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County-wide STI prevention policy implemented at Poolesville High School


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As a result in the rise of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Montgomery County residents aged 15-29, the Board of Education has created a new initiative to make latex condoms and sexual health education available to high school students in health rooms across the county. In collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County Public Schools has developed a memorandum which defines policy and protocol related to the new initiative.

This new initiative allows students to obtain latex condoms from health rooms, in addition to sexual health education in regards to proper use and STI prevention. The main goal of this initiative is STI prevention, as sexually transmitted infections can lead to serious long-term health problems, especially for adolescents. No students at Poolesville High School have taken advantage of this program to date, according to School Community Health Nurse (SCHN) Janet Lee.
Per the memorandum, Poolesville has been provided with latex condoms. They can be obtained through a scheduled conference with the SCHN. These health room visits are recorded as “conference with SCHN,” however schools are not permitted to keep a formal list of names of students who use the program. Instead, schools simply count how many students use the program, and do not contact parents in regards to the conference.

According to Lee, this program will be most effective for students who do not have the support system at home to discuss these private matters. In addition, the implementation of this new policy is not believed to lead to an increase in sexual activity among high school students.
“Kids are having sex at this age, it is best to provide some form of preventative measure,” said Lee.
This preventative measure comes in the form of both the condoms and sexual health education. The condoms, while not 100% effective against the transmission of STIs, greatly reduce the chances. The sexual health education informs the student how to store and use a condom consistently and correctly.

Each time a student returns for condoms they must undergo this education. Each school has been provided with 20 discrete brown bags, each containing 5 condoms. Upon request and visit, the student receives one brown bag.
As stated by Lee, the goal of the program is to prevent STI transmission, but the additional effect is pregnancy prevention. While the overall teen pregnancy rate for Montgomery County is low in comparison to the national average,  this program may play a role in decreasing this rate even further.
At the very least, the additional sexual health education, while redundant, is necessary for high school students, according to Health Teacher Ms. Laurie Wohnhas.

“It is important to educate teens in preventing STIs and an unwanted pregnancy. Using condoms is just one way to limit their chance of getting an STI or by having an unwanted pregnancy. Keep in mind, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing an STI or pregnancy” said Wohnhas.