Plain Talk About Adolescent Reproductive Health

In the United States, 4 out of 10 young women become pregnant at least once before they are 20, giving us the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the Western industrialized world (AMCHP). The majority of these pregnancies are unintended, and the rates are the highest in low income communities of color. In addition, the United States has an estimated 12 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year, 3 million of which occur in teenagers.

Given these statistics, it is obvious that many of our teens are sexually active, and that we, the adults in their lives need to spend some more time communicating with them about contraception, as well as disease prevention. The final piece needed to change these unacceptable rates of pregnancy and STDs is access to contraception for adolescents. One program to help do this is called Plain Talk, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (also available as Hablando Claro, in Spanish). As basic as it seems, this program is based on the fact that increasing communication about sex and increasing access to contraception reduces pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections. This particular community program works using three core elements: Community Mapping; Walkers & Talkers; and Home Health Parties.

Photo Credit: Andrea Fregnani

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