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Everything you wanted to know about MariaTalks.com but were afraid to ask

Posted Apr 26 2011 1:51pm

Launched in 2008, MariaTalks.com is an online resource that provides comprehensive, medically accurate, and developmentally appropriate information about sexual health in a non-judgmental, easily-accessible format. The site features a narrator, 18-year-old Maria, who provides information in a youth-friendly way, and the site promotes parents as the primary source of information about sex for their children.

All of the content on MariaTalks.com has been developed in collaboration with public health and pediatric experts. The goal of the site is to help young people make healthy, informed decisions about sex. Research shows that when comprehensive sexual health information is made available to young people, they will delay sexual activity and make safer choices once they are sexually active. (See, for example, “Sexual abstinence only programmes to prevent HIV infection in high income countries: systematic review,” published in the British Medical Journal.)

The site is made up of 50 pages; 30 of them are focused on delaying sex or making decisions to prevent unintended pregnancy. One page provides information about abortion; this page comes at the end of the chapter on pregnancy and follows pages on teen parenting and adoption. Information on the site encourages young people to talk with their parents, or another trusted adult, about the decisions they are making, and to see a medical provider for contraception and STD testing if they are sexually active.

Do young people need this information? Yes. According to the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, 48 percent of high school students in Massachusetts (grades 9-12) were sexually active, with 66 percent of all high school seniors reporting that they were sexually active. Only 43 percent of sexually active high school students, and 50 percent of sexually active high school seniors reported using a condom the last time they had sex. ( Source )

The issues that are addressed through the Maria Talks website are essential in safeguarding the general, sexual health of young people by informing them of their risk for unintended pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections.

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