Office of Adolescent Health Announces $4.4 million Grant to Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian

Funding will expand “Respecting the Circle of Life” teenage pregnancy prevention and sexual risk reduction program

Sexual & Reproductive Health

Baltimore, MD – The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health announced today a grant of $4.4 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health to implement and evaluate a teen pregnancy prevention program in partnership with a tribe in the American Southwest. This award is for a five-year grant period.

Respecting the Circle of Life is a sexual risk reduction and teenage pregnancy intervention tailored for Native teens that uses skill-building activities, role-playing and education to bring about behavior change. 

American Indian and Alaska Natives have significantly higher teen birth rates when compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. High rates of unprotected sex and substance abuse are among a constellation of risk factors for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI). Increasing awareness of STIs, and in particular HIV, is especially important in American Indian communities because as many as 26% of American Indian and Alaska Native people living with HIV infection do not know it.

The grant will help the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health extend the Respecting the Circle of Life program to approximately 800 youth between the ages of 13 and 19 and their parent or a trusted adult. Participants in the program learn about anatomy, reproduction, and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, as well as strategies for healthy communication. They also discuss the risks posed by alcohol and drugs – particularly before sex – and the proper use of condoms and other forms of contraception.

The program, which is embedded in a one-week basketball camp, is broken down into eight two-hour sessions, during which small, same-sex groups of friends meet with two adult interventionists. The sessions are held along with two hours of basketball and lunch. After camp, youth and parents meet twice with an interventionist to practice communication skills and healthy decision making.

“We are excited to help build a brighter future for Native youth,” said Allison Barlow, Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health.

Respecting the Circle of Life is one of 81 grants to non-profit organizations, school districts, universities, and others awarded by the Office of Adolescent Health. Collectively, these organizations are expected to serve more than 291,000 youth across the United States each year in communities where teen birth rates remain high.

About the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

Founded in 1991, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health works in partnership with tribal communities to design public health programs to raise the health status, self-sufficiency, and health leadership of Native people around the world.

Based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center has satellite offices on tribal lands of the White Mountain Apache, Navajo Nation, and Santo Domingo Pueblo. The Center’s programs currently reach more than 50 tribal nations in over 15 states. The Center’s historic partnerships with tribes have achieved landmark public health breakthroughs credited with saving over 60 million children’s lives worldwide. To learn more, visit

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