AIDS Community Care Montreal (ACCM) announced the May 14 launch of “Sext ed,” a community-based initiative that allows teenagers to use cellphones to text and receive answers to sex-related questions anonymously. ACCM developed Sext ed to fill a void created when Quebec’s Ministry of Education removed mandatory sex education programs from public high schools in 2005.
According to Project Coordinator Melissa Fuller, when people text a question to Sext ed, a volunteer reviews the question and consults with an ACCM sex education professional. If ACCM already has an answer in its database of 1,000 frequently asked questions, the caller receives a text answer of 160 or fewer characters with a hyperlink to additional educational tools and resources. The service ensures anonymity by scrambling the user’s cellphone number and assigning a random identification number to the request.
Questions from Internet forums and ACCM workshops form the bulk of the database content. As users send in unique questions, the ACCM sex education professionals will research the topics and add them to the database. Frequent topics include when and where to get STD testing, safe sex practices, pregnancy, and the “emotional side of sexuality.” Fuller stated that many people do not know the signs of unhealthy emotional or physical relationships. The ACCM initiative also will provide teaching tools and resources for school teachers.
According to a study conducted by Quebec’s health department, STD incidence among teens rose dramatically from 2001 to 2011; chlamydia increased by 60 percent, and there was a similar increase in syphilis and gonorrhea. Quebec’s health department indicated that the government is planning to implement “new, more comprehensive” sex education in schools, but did not provide information about timing or funding for the program.
Individuals may text questions to (514) 700–0445 or visit sexted.org.