The use of mass media campaigns has sometimes resulted in high levels of "awareness" coupled with essentially superficial knowledge of HIV transmission.
According to SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, 93% of adults they surveyed support sexuality education in high school and 84% support it in junior high school.
In fact, 88% of parents of junior high school students and 80% of parents of secondary school students believe that sex education in school makes it easier for them to talk to their adolescents about sex.
The outbreak of AIDS has given a new sense of urgency to sex education.
In many African countries, where AIDS is at epidemic levels (see HIV/AIDS in Africa), sex education is seen by most scientists as a vital public health strategy.
Some international organizations such as Planned Parenthood consider that broad sex education programs have global benefits, such as controlling the risk of overpopulation and the advancement of women's rights (see also reproductive rights).
Sex education is instruction on issues relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.
Sex education that covers all of these aspects is known as comprehensive sex education.
Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.
Traditionally, adolescents in many cultures were not given any information on sexual matters, with the discussion of these issues being considered taboo.
Such instruction, as was given, was traditionally left to a child's parents, and often this was put off until just before a child's marriage.
The progressive education movement of the late 19th century, however, led to the introduction of "social hygiene" in North American school curricula and the advent of school-based sex education.