This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Helping to bring attention to this issue is important because, although teen birth rates in the United States have declined, they are still nine times higher than in most other developed countries, and 82 percent of births to teens in the United States are unintended. Nevada has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation. The state capital has a rate of 53 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19, well above the national average.
Carson City Health and Human Services recognizes the challenges facing our community with regard to teen pregnancy and believes that young people have the right to lead healthy lives. Providing them with honest, age-appropriate comprehensive sexual health education is a key part in helping them take personal responsibility for their health and well-being. That’s why the Health Department is excited to bring the PREP Program to teens aged 13-18 in our community. Comprehensive sexual health education programs, like PREP, include medically accurate, age-appropriate information about healthy sexual growth and development; healthy relationships; and prevention of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections through abstinence and contraception.
Carson City Health and Human Services received the funding for this program as a sub-grant of the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health’s grant from the federal Family and Youth Services Bureau. The purpose of this funding stream is to give state agencies the capacity to educate young people on both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. As a sub-grantee of the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Carson City Health and Human Services has been given the opportunity to work with all teens, but specifically those who may be involved in the juvenile justice or foster care systems.
In addition to the PREP program for older teens, Carson City Health and Human Services continues to offer the Promoting Health Among Teens Program for kids aged 9-12 and 13-15. It is an abstinence-based teen pregnancy prevention program designed to help kids make healthy decisions for their futures. Students in the program will learn age-appropriate facts about STDs, HIV and pregnancy, strategies for handling peer pressure, and more.
Parents, educators, public health and medical professionals, and community organizations all have a role to play in reducing teen pregnancy. Together, we can help our teens make healthy choices and be their best!
For more information or to sign up for either program, call Vicky Chandler at 775-283-7529. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org.