News & Views

Population Briefs

Placing Equality, Respect, and Dignity at the Center of Sexuality and HIV Education

The Landscape

Sexuality and HIV education can help adolescents develop the capacity for healthy, respectful relationships and protect themselves from unwanted and unsafe sex, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infection. “However,” says Population Council social scientist Nicole Haberland, “only a few curricula actually demonstrate an effect on unintended pregnancy or on sexually transmitted infections. We see the strongest results with those curricula that emphasize gender and power issues. Unfortunately, most curricula still do not address these issues.”

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Population Briefs

Improving Quality of Care in Family Planning

Improving Quality of Care in Family Planning

Population Council researcher Anrudh K. Jain provided some of the first empirical evidence for the relationship between family planning method choice as an aspect of service quality and the prevalence of contraceptive use. Since then, several studies have demonstrated that improving the quality of reproductive health services increases contraceptive use.

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Population Briefs

Ensuring Protections for Young People in Research

Ensuring Protections for Young People in Research
The Landscape

To develop effective programs that help children and adolescents affected by HIV and AIDS, researchers, program managers, and service providers need solid data on their needs and life circumstances. Until 2003, limited guidance existed to help researchers design studies that ensured the full protection of children and adolescents involved in research.

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Population Briefs

Broadening the Response to Population Momentum

Broadening the Response to Population Momentum

Until the mid-1990s, policymakers took a single approach to addressing population growth: increasing access to family planning. But in early 1994, Population Council demographer John Bongaarts published a ground-breaking analysis, “Population policy options in the developing world,” in the journal Science. The article advocated a significantly expanded approach, particularly investing in the lives of adolescent girls, to advance public health and wellbeing while slowing the pace of population growth.

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Population Briefs

Identifying the HIV Risk and Sexual Health Needs of Men Who Have Sex with Men in Africa

The Landscape

In developed countries, it has long been recognized that men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, in Africa, the stigma associated with homosexual behavior—and the fact that it is illegal in some countries—have kept the health needs of MSM largely hidden. As a result, health systems have lacked vital information for creating effective programs and policies that meet the health needs of this at-risk population.

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Population Briefs

Developing Microbicides to Combat HIV Transmission

The Landscape

In the 1980s, at the beginning of the HIV epidemic, AIDS was thought to be primarily a “gay male” disease, and many people wrongly believed that women were not at risk. But just ten years later, the number of infections among women was as high as that among men in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV was predominantly transmitted through heterosexual sex.

Prevention efforts at the time focused on abstinence or monogamy, treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and condom use. But for many women, social, cultural, and economic inequalities severely limited their ability to protect themselves from infection.

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Population Briefs

Advancing Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

Advancing Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

The Population Council developed the copper T IUD, one of the most effective and cost-effective contraceptive methods available today.

The Landscape

The first modern IUDs were developed in the early 1900s, but had many shortcomings. Women who used them experienced pain and heavy bleeding, and the devices were often expelled from the uterus. The Population Council began contraceptive research in 1956 and was the first organization to recognize the potential of the IUD to be a better, more effective contraceptive method. The Council invested significantly in new research and product development to achieve that potential.

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Population Briefs

Shaping Abortion Reform in Mexico City

Shaping Abortion Reform in Mexico City

Research undertaken by the Population Council in Mexico played an important part in the passage of the landmark 2007 reform to decriminalize early abortion in Mexico City.

The Landscape

Before 2007, all Mexican states permitted abortions in cases of rape, and nearly all permitted the procedure to save a mother’s life. In practice, however, it was nearly impossible for women in these circumstances to access abortion because of rigid bureaucracy and long delays.

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Population Briefs

Using Research to Improve Programs

Using Research to Improve Programs
The Landscape

Global health programs, such as those to improve access to family planning services or reduce transmission of HIV, can succeed or fail for a variety of reasons. Some factors, such as civil unrest or monsoon rains, are beyond a program manager’s control. Managers have the ability to change other factors, however, such as staff training and supply logistics. But before the 1980s, there was no standard, evidence-based process to help program managers improve systems by identifying service-delivery problems and testing solutions.

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