Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

LA high school making strides against teen pregnancy and STIs

Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles is doing the unheard of in some parents' books - promoting the use of contraceptives to teenagers. The free and confidential service is put on by Planned Parenthood in collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Its ultimate goal is to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies among the school's students. It offers various services, including birth control distribution, pregnancy testing, counseling and screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STI).

The stats don't lie - teen pregnancy is everywhere

Half of all American teenagers have sex before they graduate high school, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported there was an average live birth rate of 34.3 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 to 19, which is lower than statistics from previous years.

Teen pregnancy is not only a country-wide issue, but is also costly. It accounts for $11 billion per year to U.S. taxpayers.

Roosevelt's unique clinic aims to lower the number of unplanned pregnancies among teenagers. Overall, the birth rate for this age group has decreased throughout California and Los Angeles County over the last few years, with an average rate of 29 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2010. Despite this decrease, there are still areas with high percentages of teenage mothers.

Planned Parenthood specifically encourages communication among classmates about STIs and pregnancy.

Students feel more comfortable going to a school-based clinic

One of the biggest advantages of the free clinic is that it allows students to remain inside their comfort zones while seeking out appropriate care and education about their sexual health.

"They feel much safer and much more comfortable coming to a school-based health clinic," Sherry Medrano, the nurse practitioner who runs the Roosevelt health clinic, said to the LA Times.

Medrano has seen the clinic work to improve the teenage pregnancy rate with her own eyes. Before the clinic was implemented in 2008, Medrano saw 32 pregnancies between March 1 and June 1, which is when spring break and prom occur. Once the clinic was instituted in 2009, she only saw three pregnancies during that same time period.

Students understand what it means to get pregnant and some have watched older sisters drop out of high school after getting pregnant.

"If I got pregnant now, I don't know what I would do," she said. "I still want to do good in school and have a career," a student at Roosevelt told Medrano, as quoted by the news source.