If you care about ending HIV, then you should care about sex education

Sex education is central and integrally linked to HIV advocacy. All individuals, including People living with HIV (PLWH), have the right to make informed, autonomous decisions about their reproductive health. For people with HIV, these decisions can be more complex – involving medical decisions that can drastically reduce the risk of transmission during insemination, pregnancy, childbirth and infant feeding as well as criminalization.

A lack of evidence-based, medically accurate, and LGBTQIA+ inclusive sex education, including information on HIV prevention, care and management, results in stigma, misinformation, unsafe sex practices and stressful perinatal experiences. In addition, a lack of education or conversation regarding sexual and reproductive health can lead to discrimination and violence, especially as public health and sexual health become increasingly politicized. These implications also disproportionately impact those already disparately affected, all while discouraging testing.

As we discuss in our If/Then fact sheet with SIECUS, several factors lead to inequitable access to HIV care, prevention, and services, but many of those factors begin with a lack of sex education in schools. When students are empowered with the information to prevent and treat HIV and other STIs, they’re able to make informed decisions about their health, well being, care, treatment and bodily autonomy. HIV testing also increases, as well as one’s awareness of their HIV status.

What can you do?

If you care about ending HIV, then you should care about sex education. That means:

  • Supporting federal legislation such as the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act (REAHYA) (H.R.3583/S.1697) that includes accurate, inclusive, and trauma-informed information on HIV in sex ed curriculums and increases access to sexual health services for marginalized young people.
  • Removing barriers to federal funding for harm reduction programs that are vital to ending the HIV and overdose epidemics.
  • Bolstering efforts that increase access to HIV pre-and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), such as the PrEP Access and Coverage Act (H.R. 4392/S. 2188).
  • Support legislation to protect non-discrimination protections for people living with and vulnerable to HIV and/or LGBTQ+ people, such as the Equality Act (H.R. 15/S.5) and the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act.
  • Support funding for the CDC’s Division of Adolescent School Health DASH and Teen Pregnancy Prevention, two evidence-based programs that allow more young people to access medically accurate, age and developmentally-appropriate, LGBTQIA-inclusive sex education.
  • Center the voices and experiences of young people of color within HIV advocacy, paying special attention to parental notification barriers.
  • Provide much-needed support for the intersecting HIV, viral hepatitis, and overdose syndemics that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic by funding the Opioid Related Infectious Diseases line at the CDC.


This eye-opening fact sheet of the If/Then series promotes complete and progressive Sex Education as a means to fight and ultimately eliminate HIV. So, if you care about ending HIV, then you’ll read and download our latest report! Click here to download the full report!