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Text message service answers teen sex ed questions

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Providing anonymity for those asking awkward or embarrassing questions combined with easy access, cell phone text messages are yet another new approach public health officials are taking in order to communicate with teenagers about sex and STDs.

The New York Times reports that the latest and most interactive version of this approach comes from The Birds and Bees Text Line in North Carolina, which offers one-on-one exchanges with trained personnel that are private, personal and anonymous.

"Technology reduces the shame and embarrassment," says Deb Levine, executive director of ISIS, a nonprofit organization using technology-based reproductive health programs. She tells the Times, "It's the perceived privacy that people have when they're typing into a computer or a cellphone. And it's culturally appropriate for young people: they don’t learn about this from adults lecturing them."

There are several other cell-phone based sex ed services, but they have been automated, with lists of frequently asked questions and automated replies with clinic addresses. The North Carolina program is fully interactive.

Professor Sheana Bull, an expert on sexually transmitted disease infection and technology at the University of Colorado School of Public Health told the Times, "The technology can be used to connect young people to trusted, competent adults who have competent information."ADNFCR-2248-ID-19152108-ADNFCR

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