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The Board of Ed is flunking its assignment to teach school kids about AIDS and distribute condoms to teenagers, a new report released by an HIV advocacy organization charges.

But the report also revealed the reluctance of students to ask for condoms–even when they were available.

Members of Youth Education Life Line (YELL) interviewed 739 students in 11 high schools in every borough except Staten Island and asked them about the quality and quantity of their AIDS education. About 40 percent of those interviewed by the organization, which is affiliated with ACT-UP, said they had received only one lecture period devoted to AIDS/HIV education in the past school year; the board requires six such periods. Only 10 percent of the students said they had been given the mandated coursework. A full 30 percent said they had received no instruction at all.

The availability of condoms was more widespread, but the interviewers found that 21 percent of the students said condoms were not available at their school.

Yet surprisingly, only one in five of students surveyed said they asked for contraceptives. Of those, 16 percent were denied access, according to the YELL questioners. Calls to the Board of Education were not returned at press time.

An independent evaluation of the city's condom program was published last month in The American Journal of Public Health. The research, which included 13,000 students during the 1994/1995 school year, found that the availability of condoms in public schools encouraged their use but did not increase rates of sexual activity.

The study was a collaborative effort by New York University's School of Education and several other hospital and research institutions. Although the NYU study lauds New York City's condom availability policy, YELL says the school system needs to be more rigorous. “In general, schools need to do more to impact more directly on the lives of young people,” the report's authors conclude.

For a copy of the study call 212-966-4873. Last week the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has also been vocal on the issue of condom availability, established a toll-free hotline, 1-888-HIV-EDUCATE, where instances of non-compliance can be reported.

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