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The Maine HIV Prevention Education Program

Program History

The Maine Department of Education continues to provide annual training and technical assistance to school administrative units and youth serving agencies on the issues surrounding HIV.  HIV infections have risen in Maine and the impact continues to be among young adults.  Nationally, one out of every two new HIV infections is among those under thirty-five years of age; one out of every three in Maine.  Maine’s school administrative units have responded to the HIV epidemic by providing a high level of HIV prevention education at the middle and high school levels without a state mandate.  Ninety-eight percent of these schools provide HIV education.

The Department supports the implementation of researched, skill-based HIV prevention curricula by offering no cost resources, training and implementation grants.  These curricula have been shown to be effective in reducing HIV risk behaviors with adolescents.  Since 1993, approximately 90% of Maine’s public high schools and 66% of Maine’s middle and junior high schools have been trained in the implementation of a researched, skilled-based HIV prevention curriculum.  Close to 100 percent of Maine’s school administrative units have attended at least one HIV related staff development event offered by the department.

Recently, Maine has developed one unique middle school and one unique high school HIV and sexual health curricula, based on the department’s work with teachers and feedback from students.  The curricula are modified versions of programs that have been shown to be effective in reducing HIV risk behaviors.  Teachers and students have responded positively to both curricula.  The department continues to offer training in these two new curricula, Best Practices in HIV Prevention Education at the high school level and a Maine revised Reducing the Risk/Making Safer Choices for the middle school level.  They are abstinence based and provide comprehensive information and the skills to avoid HIV infection. 

The Student Leadership conferences on HIV have reached approximately ninety percent of Maine’s high schools.  Teams of students from attending schools can apply for HIV Peer Prevention mini-grants to provide peer programming on HIV.   Many schools have won state and national awards for their work in HIV prevention.  Examples are the Mid-Coast School of Technology HIV Education team, the Real School team, the Mount Desert Island High School team, the Wayneflete School’s “Students for Safer Sexuality” team and the Bonny Eagle High School’s “T- Cell Team.”  Several Maine youth have presented at national conferences on HIV prevention education.  The efforts of students across the state are an excellent example of the Maine Learning Results in health education in action, and assist the Department in program planning.

The Department of Education is in a partnership with New Beginnings, Inc., a multi-service agency for homeless and transitioning youth in Lewiston.  New Beginnings offers a three-day training, the High Risk Adolescent Prevention Project (HRAP), for staff of agencies that serve youth in high-risk situations.  Close to 2,000 people from 120 agencies, state departments, AIDS service organizations and other youth programs have attended this training and other one-day advanced workshops.  New Beginnings trains youth agencies statewide in the implementation of HIV prevention curricula.  A three-year project, the “HIV Prevention Project” was funded by an Insurers Grant and developed by New Beginnings.  The Department is a partner in this project and offers this model program to other youth serving agencies.  Fifteen youth agencies have been trained in the “HIV Prevention Project” skills-based curriculum.  This curriculum has been selected by the Centers for Disease Control as one of seven “Reputationally Strong Programs” nationwide.   In addition, forty-five agencies and twenty-seven alternative schools have been trained and are implementing the “Be Proud, Be Responsible” curriculum with youth in high-risk situations.  These trainings and other planned staff development for youth serving agencies are part of this on going partnership to reach youth in high-risk situations with HIV prevention.

Maine was selected as one of two sites in the country to conduct an intensive evaluation of HIV prevention education efforts with high school youth in the spring of 1998.  The Academy of Educational Development and the Centers for Disease Control were partners in the evaluation project.  The ninth and tenth grade students who completed an HIV education survey were representative of students statewide.  The results indicate that a high level of HIV education is delivered in Maine’s high schools. Students in classrooms taught by teachers trained by the Maine Department of Education reported receiving a significantly higher level of HIV risk reduction skills practice, HIV knowledge and self-efficacy in using HIV prevention skills.  A large majority of Maine educators report teaching a comprehensive program that includes skills to delay the onset of sexual intercourse and correct condom use.  Maine has the second highest level of teachers who report teaching condom efficacy and correct condom use at the middle and high school level in the country.

The Centers for Disease Control has cited the Department for continuing to provide exemplary programming that is progressive, innovative, and reflective of consistent efforts to affect change in youth risk behaviors related to HIV prevention.

Revised:  Sep, 2012