Although the national teen pregnancy rate is declining, the United States continues to have the highest pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. Even more specifically, the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data indicate that Delaware teens are more likely to have sex at an early age, have more frequent sexual activity, have more sexual partners, and may be less likely to use protection than adolescents in other states.
In terms of ethnic and racial disparities, Delaware has the fourth highest pregnancy rate among Hispanic adolescents aged 15-19 years. Teen pregnancy among Blacks are nearly twice that of Whites. Black adolescents are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, comprising 60% of the cases, while Whites and Hispanic adolescents comprised 32 and 8 percent, respectively.
A primary factor linked to sexual risk taking is drug and alcohol use. Effective support resources include family connectedness, community involvement, access to reproductive services and contraception, and comprehensive sexual education.
Strategies for reducing adolescent pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) need to be sustainable and provide:
The Delaware Adolescent Sexual Health State Plan from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Board provides a course of action to reduce the high teen pregnancy rate in Delaware. The goals for the State of Delaware are based on Healthy People 2020 goals for adolescent reproductive health.
Using a systems perspective, the project will emphasize coordination and collaboration between Delaware State agencies and community organizations serving adolescents. As part of the plan, The Delaware Division of Public Health plans to implement and replicate two evidence-based health education programs targeting both school-based and community-based adolescent populations in reducing teenage pregnancy statewide. Targeted sites will include census county divisions (CCDs) with correspondingly high rates of social and economic risks, teen births and STD and HIV/AIDS infections. A Sexuality Training Institute will be established to provide technical assistance, materials and a train-the-trainers model.
Other suggested strategies focus on access to reproductive health care, methods to foster parent-teen relationships, and means to address sexual diversity. Inclusive in this process will be the stakeholders-those that the project serves or affects, such as youth, parents and guardians, teachers, service providers, program coordinators, health agency administrators and community members.
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