On Nov. 2, two former U.S. Surgeons General told sexuality researchers and advocates during a national audio press conference that America needs a new approach in confronting the current sexual health crisis in America.
Dr. David Satcher ( who was Surgeon General 1998-2002 ) and Dr. Jocelyn Elders ( who held the office 1993-'94 ) called for more aggressive action by the public and private sectors in response to distressing disparities in sexual health among African Americans and other minorities. They also emphasized that sexual health must be viewed not only as the absence of disease but as a positive dimension of human development and well being. Related to this newfound approach, Satcher announced that he is establishing a first-of-its kind Center of Excellence for Sexual Health at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta to develop innovative public health leadership in this area.
Satcher's announcement came at a special meeting to mark the five-year anniversary of the former Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior. Co-sponsors of the meeting, the National Sexuality Resource Center ( NSRC ) and the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality ( CRGS ) , presented their first annual Champions of Sexual Literacy Awards.
Elders cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that are truly frightening, including the facts that there are 19 million new sexually transmitted infections annually; there are 40,000 new cases of HIV infection each year, with rising rates for African Americans; and that almost half of pregnancies are unintended, with the rate substantially ( if unsurprisingly ) higher among women aged 18–24 as well as unmarried, low-income, and minority women.
Among those who received Sexual Literacy Awards were Bishop Yvette Flunder for her ministry and leadership with the HIV/AIDS organizaiton Ark of Refuge, as well as Dr. Anke A. Ehrhardt for her three decades of contributions to sexuality research and her work at the HIV Center for Research and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University.