Editor’s Note: Tulane University and NolaVie partnered together for Dr. Vicki Mayer’s Public Intellectual 2.0 course. The students interviewed community members, analyzed data and reports, and deconstructed how to foster and enrich public intellectuals in the community. The final projects resulted in articles, videos, and mixed-media designs that articulate the learnings and themes uncovered in the course. NolaVie will be publishing those reports on a weekly basis.
The idea for the two comic strip on education for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) originated with a report completed by the Louisiana Public Health Institute. The report indicated that very few schools in the Orleans Parish were equipped to teach sex education to its students.
Many teachers believed that teaching about sexual education was a priority, but lacked training, administrative support, and resources to do the job well. According to their needs assessment, school teachers feel that the areas believed to be most important for students include sexual health and wellness, mental health, drugs and alcohol, violence prevention and dating violence. Additionally, Louisiana has the 8th highest teen birth rate in the country, the 2nd highest rate of HIV incidence among teens, and is in the top five for STD infections in the country.
One reason for these high rates is that school wellness programs are barred by law from providing contraception or condoms to their students. While medical providers in the wellness program may not provide condoms or birth control, they are not currently barred from prescribing PrEP.
Students over the age of 16 do not require parental consent to obtain medical care in Louisiana and need to be educated on options they could be utilizing to prevent HIV infections. Source: Louisiana Public Health Institute (2016). School Health Connection: Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Resources. New Orleans, LA. from here accessed on May 5, 2016.