Imagine a world where conversations about sexual health felt normal, expected, and comfortable. How would that shape young people as they grow and become sexually active? Welcome to the NeverFearTalks video series! Over the last year, The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine created a video series featuring episodes demonstrating ways for parents/caregivers to have meaningful conversations with their young people around sexual health. We know to navigate these conversations traditionally has been challenging. We often hear from parents and supportive adults that they experience anxiety related to the awkwardness associated with a one-time sexual health conversation: “The Talk.” Fortunately for parents, there shouldn’t be just one talk, but many small conversations throughout childhood and adolescence that cover a diverse range of subjects and are responsive to young people’s specific needs and wants.
The beauty of the NeverFearTalks series is that it features real families having real conversations. We’ve featured episodes that cover a range of subjects from consent and masturbation to break-ups and sexual health. Now, with support from The National Library of Medicine, the project team will be creating two new videos specifically focused on HIV/AIDS, and PrEP. The talks featured in this series are short and sweet, providing essential information in a digestible and entertaining way. Each episode showcases tactics for parents to have supportive and informed conversations with young people as the topics naturally come up in daily life. These conversations are the first step towards empowering young people to have the knowledge and confidence around sexual health topics for them to make informed and healthy choices.
As a part of this project, we will be hosting in-person community education sessions presenting the videos at Chicago Public Library branches located in areas that are most impacted by HIV. Accompanying the videos will be a curriculum featuring NLM materials and a roleplay exercise for those who attend; the intention behind these is to have the audience practice their newly gained knowledge and skills. Trained HIV test counselors will be present to provide support throughout and answer questions. Discussions like these require practice, and it is perfectly fine not to have all the answers the first time around. These sessions will provide an opportunity for parents and supportive adults to build their confidence in their ability to facilitate these conversations and share HIV/AIDS and PrEP information with their youth.
NeverFearTalks shows ways that parents and supportive adults can begin conversations. It is a starting point for families and our project team hopes the videos and resources provide support, information and encouragement needed for families to continue these conversations themselves for years to come.
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