Federal government awards $10 million to innovative Sex Education Program at UT Health Science Center

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 30, 2010) — The federal government today awarded $10 million over five years to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to continue an innovative sex education program in the region’s schools.

The award to the U.T. Health Science Center’s Sex Education Program was part of $155 million in teen pregnancy prevention grants announced earlier today by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The Health Science Center was one of just five recipients in Texas.

In the first year of the award, the Health Science Center receives $1.2 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and another $850,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The remainder of the $10 million will come over the four years that follow.

The Sex Education Program (SEP), offered by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the UT Health Science Center’s School of Medicine, focuses on education to community stakeholders at all levels, providing medically accurate, age-appropriate information to support teens to make healthy decisions. The SEP is directed by Kristen Plastino, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

In the last seven years, the SEP has developed connections with schools, youth-serving organizations and community partners to provide training to hundreds of area teachers, health care professionals and others who work with youth. Additionally, the SEP has educated thousands of area parents and offers programs for parents and students to attend together that are designed to increase communication on topics pertinent to teenage health.

The new federal funding will allow the SEP to integrate services, programs and strategies through communitywide initiatives and increase saturation to high school students with the goal of increasing healthy decision-making and decreasing pregnancy among 14- to 19-year-olds.

“The SEP has been hard at work in teenage pregnancy prevention since 2003,” Dr. Plastino said. “We are excited at the opportunity that these grants will give us to expand our reach and support teens as they progress through the high school years. Healthy decisions at this juncture play an important role in paving the way to successful adulthood.”

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled a record $259 million in fiscal year 2009. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $739 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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