The Importance of Prevention
In 2012, a total of 305,388 babies were born to women aged 15–19 years, for a live birth rate of 29.4 per 1,000 women in this age group. This is a record low for U.S. teens in this age group, and a drop of 6% from 2011. Birth rates fell 8% for women aged 15–17 years, and 5% for women aged 18–19 years. While reasons for the declines are not clear, teens seem to be less sexually active, and more of those who are sexually active seem to be using birth control than in previous years
You always go to your gynecologist, or other physician, for your yearly check-up. You therefore assume that you’d know if you were positive for an STD. The thing is… unless you are going to Planned Parenthood for your exams, there’s a good chance you’re wrong. Many, if not most, private doctors do not screen for sexually transmitted diseases unless you specifically ask them to do so. So, the next time you go in for your annual visit, ask your doctor if she has been, or will be, screening you for STDs. Then, if they say yes, ask what STDs they’re planning on screening you for.
Even doctors who test their patients regularly, don’t necessarily test for all common STDs. There are good reasons not to test for genital herpes and HPV in individuals who don’t have symptoms, but this may give some people a false sense of security. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what diseases you have and haven’t been tested for as well as the last time you were tested.
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Elements of Youth-Friendly Contraceptive and Reproductive Health Services
Contraceptive and reproductive health services include family planning; contraception (methods to prevent pregnancy); prenatal, obstetric, and postnatal care; and prevention or treatment of reproductive tract infections, including sexually transmitted infections.
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Abstinence from vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy. The correct and consistent use of male latex condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission, including HIV infection. However, no protective method is 100% effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD or pregnancy.
Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in unintended health outcomes. For example, among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2013:
•46.8% had ever had sexual intercourse
•34.0% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these ◦40.9% did not use a condom the last time they had sex
•15.0% had had sex with four or more people during their life
Sexual risk behaviors place adolescents at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy:
•An estimated 8,300 young people aged 13–24 years in the 40 states reporting to CDC had HIV infection in 20092
•Nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are among young people aged 15–24 years3
•More than 400,000 teen girls aged 15–19 years gave birth in 20094
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