TheGrio's 100: Dr. Yolanda Wimberly, sex educator for life

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Dr. Yolanda Wimberly, 39, is assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the Morehouse School of Medicine and director of its pediatric residency program. Wimberly is also medical director of the Center of Excellence for Sexual Health at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute of MSM. It’s the first and only such center in the nation.

Wimberly, a married mother of three-year-old twins, is considered an expert in adolescent medicine. “Because of the nature of the business that I’m in, and the population that I see, STDs and family planning are two key issues that I deal with,” said Wimberly.

Eight years ago, the Meharry Medical College graduate began changing her approach to her patients’ sexual health. This came after former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher tapped her for a panel, examining the state of sexual education in medical schools.

“I would sit in these meetings and I would be like, ‘Wow this is really enlightening,’” Wimberly said. “I had never really thought of the way that I thought about sex, always in a negative aspect.” Wimberly found that sexual attitudes were key.

“I think in general, in the black community, we don’t necessarily talk about sex,” she said. “We look at it on television, … sing about it in music. We write poems about it, but we never really have a candid conversation about sex,” said Wimberly.

Wimberly emphasizes that in this day and age, sexual choices can lead to serious health consequences, so it is imperative that we have open dialogues in our homes, communities and nation as a whole. From workshops to office visits, Wimberly seeks opportunities to guide parents and teens in informed talks about sex.

Her efforts won her the prestigious Association of American Medical Colleges Humanism in Medicine Award for 2008.

Wimberly hopes the Center of Excellence for Sexual Health will serve as a model for others to start such centers around the nation.

“From birth to death, we are all sexual beings,” she said. “My goal is to help people have good sexual health in the context of a responsible relationship.”