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 Reproductive & Sexual Health

Although adolescents are seen as a healthy population who suffer from few life-threatening conditions, many of their behaviors, especially those related to sexual risk-taking, during this developmental phase can have life-long consequences. After a steady decline in birth rates for 15-19 year olds from 1991-2005, there was an increase in rates in 26 states between 2005 and 2006. The most recent birth data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows a decline in birth rates in 2008 to 41.5 births per 1,000 among adolescents aged 15 - 19 years old; however, these rates are still too high. By comparison, in 2006, the birth rate in France was 10 per 1,000 for women ages 15 - 19, and in Germany it was 12.5. The overall picture for adolescent reproductive health in the U.S. is a troubling one. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the sexual and reproductive health of U.S. adolescents and young adults is no longer improving.  Some key data related to adolescent reproductive and sexul health are:

  • Women younger than 20 years of age had a total of about 745,000 pregnancies in 2004. [1]
  • HIV/AIDS was present in about 22,000 youth aged 10 to 24 years in 33 states in 2006. [1]
  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis was present in about 1 million youth aged 10 to 24 years in 2006. [1] 
  • During 2003 to 2004, 25% of young women 15 to 19 years of age had evidence of human papillomavirus infection. [1]
  • During 2004 to 2006, about 105,000 young women 10 to 24 years of age were seen at a hospital emergency department for nonfatal sexual assault injury. [1] 
  • Almost half (46 percent) of all 15- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. have had sex at least once. [2]
  • Adolescents of color, particularly African-American and Latinos, suffer disproportionately from negative reproductive health outcomes.

However, the good news is that HIV/AIDS, STDs, and unintended and teen pregnancies are preventable through action on the part of state health agencies and their partners.  AMCHP’s adolescent reproductive work includes the following projects:

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10 -24 Years – United States, 2002-2007. Surveillance Summaries. July 17, 2009. MMWR 2009;58(SS06);1-58.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States,2009. Surveillance Summaries, June 4, 2010. MMWR 2010;59 (No. SS-5).