This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Today, May 4th is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, part of a month-long effort to bring awareness to the issues surrounding teen pregnancy in the United States. Carson City Health and Human Services is proud to work with our partners across the region to reach out to young people to educate them about preventing pregnancy, as well as sexually transmitted infections, and HIV.
The overwhelming majority of teen pregnancies are unplanned. That is, teens say they did not want to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy. That alone is reason enough to care about preventing teen pregnancy. But, it is also the case that teen pregnancy is closely linked to a host of other critical social issues, poverty and income, overall child well-being, out-of-wedlock births, responsible fatherhood, health issues, education, child welfare, and other risky behavior. Although teen pregnancy is a reproductive health issue, prevention efforts can help improve overall health and address these social issues.
Although teen pregnancy remains an important issue, there is good news. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the teen birthrate has fallen steadily for the past 25 years and is now at an all-time low. Despite this progress, there is still much work to be done. It is still the case that nearly 1 in 4 girls will get pregnant at least once before they turn 20, and that the rates in this country are far higher than other industrialized countries. Nevada still ranks 44th for teen pregnancy and 35th for teen births.
Through CCHHS’ Adolescent Health Education Programs (AHEP), two evidence-based programs are offered to help provide teens and pre-teens factual information about pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and the risks for HIV. An abstinence-only curriculum, “Promoting Health Among Teens,” and a comprehensive program, Be Proud! Be Responsible! are available to share information with youth in an age-appropriate and culturally sensitive way. Parents are given the opportunity to discuss these issues with their teens throughout both programs to ensure that their family’s values are protected.
CCHHS’ AHEP staff is working with the Storey County School District to implement a session of the “Promoting Health Among Teens” “Abstinence Only!” curriculum at the 5th grade level in May. In April, AHEP staff completed a session of the “Be Proud! Be Responsible!” program at Virginia City High School. Both programs will be offered to youth in Carson City this summer.
Carson City Health and Human Services recognizes that abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. However, for teens who are considering being sexually active, it’s important that they understand their options for pregnancy prevention. Teens can access services at CCHHS’s clinic on their own. At the clinic, as part of an overall health check, a nurse will review birth control options, and teens can select the method that fits best for them.
To learn more about the Adolescent Health Education Programs offered by Carson City Health and Human Services, contact Vicky Chandler at 283-7529. To schedule an appointment with the clinic, please call 887-2195. For information on other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.