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Navigating Adolescence in Good Health
IUDs give you cancer. The pill makes you fat. If you have sex, you won’t grow taller.
These are only a few of the myths young people eagerly shouted out when asked what they had learned about sex before coming to CIES, our Member Association in Bolivia. Of the fourteen young people gathered in the bright room located behind CIES’ main clinic in Sucre, only one had received sexuality education in school. The rest relied on peers and the Internet for information about their bodies and sex.
CIES helps fill this gap through an evidence-based, comprehensive sexuality education model that trains young people on issues of sexuality, leadership, and advocacy. Part of this education is geared towards empowering young people to care for their own health—and access free or low-cost services at CIES clinics. During routine visits, young people receive counseling on sexual and reproductive health and services like contraception and HIV testing.
The program has helped countless young people like Ana, who said that CIES not only empowered her with correct information about her body, contraception, and rights; it helped her become an ambassador of truth among her peers and her family.
While Ana said talking to her mom and dad about what she had learned in the program was hard at first, she is now the resident expert on sex and sexuality in her family. “I talked to my parents about contraception,” said Ana. “They didn’t know what it was before.” Now, said Ana, her parents routinely visit CIES clinics and talk to Ana about safe sex.