Meet the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Youth United Through Health Education (YUTHE) Program. (April 2021)

The YUTHE Program is a professional development and peer education internship designed to introduce youth and young adults to the field of public health and address health disparities in San Francisco, specifically in regard to substance use and sexual health. The YUTHE program conducts sexual health workshops at local high schools and community-based organizations and provides street outreach to youth in the Bayview, Castro, Fillmore, and Visitation Valley neighborhoods. During outreach they discuss topics such as healthy relationships, STIs, and PrEP while distributing safer sex supplies and information.

In order to identify new strategies to engage youth around health matters affecting this age group, the YUTHE program is assisting the SFDPH’s Community Health Equity and Promotion Branch (CHEP) in the recruitment of a Youth Advisory Council. The council members are tasked with sharing their voice and expertise with CHEP and engaging local youth in discussions around sexual health and substance use. Goals for the Youth Advisory Council’s first year include developing a youth engagement strategy; providing feedback on SFDPH campaigns; conducting a community needs assessment regarding youth needs around sexual health and substance use and harm reduction; and advancing council member’s leadership skills and career opportunities.   

Many youth clinics and programs have temporarily closed due to COVID-19, leaving a lack of sexual health services for this priority population. In response, the YUTHE program is promoting free HIV and STI home testing through Take Me Home and utilizing social media platforms to engage youth and young adults. Follow their Facebook page @SFYUTHE. You can find more about youth services in San Francisco during COVID-19 at https://sf.gov/covid19youthservices.

For the full monthly report this editorial appeared in, please visit Department of Public Health - Research, Health Assessments & Data (sfdph.org) webpage and scroll down to San Francisco Monthly STD Reports.