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India’s national examination board is set to introduce a new programme teaching pupils at kindergartens and schools about drug and sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS, hygiene and nutrition. The step has been taken to enhance a positive sexual health and responsible behavior in children. Topics related to sexual changes at puberty, substance abuse, myths concerning the reproductive growth of a child and sexually transmitted diseases will be part of the curriculum.

A conservative attitude to sex, contraception and a lack of awareness is common, especially in rural India. Experts say this has not only left adolescents vulnerable to abuse but has also exacerbated the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, which now has the highest number of cases in the world.

Providing effective sex education can seem daunting because it means tackling potentially sensitive issues. However, because sex education comprises many individual activities, which take place across a wide range of settings and periods of time, there are lots of opportunities to contribute. The nature of a person’s contribution depends on their relationship, role and expertise in relation to young people. For example, parents are best placed in relation to young people to provide continuity of individual support and education starting from early in their lives. School-based education programmes are particularly good at providing information and opportunities for skills development and attitude clarification in more formal ways, through lessons within a curriculum. Community-based projects provide opportunities for young people to access advice and information in less formal ways. Sexual health and other health and welfare services can provide access to specific information, support and advice. Sex education through the mass media, often supported by local, regional or national Government and non-governmental agencies and departments, can help to raise public awareness of sex health issues
According to the United Nations, 5.7 million Indians are living with the virus. But activists say the true figure may be far higher as social stigma forces many of those infected with the virus to keep their status a secret.

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