In the News: Docs Say Make it Rain (with Condoms, that is)
Did you know that young people ages 15 – 24 contract more than half of all new sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? Yes, you read that right — over HALF. That’s not all; one out of every five new HIV infections in 2011 were among young people ages 13 – 24. Wow.
In November, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a report called “Condom Use by Adolescents.” This report highlights a lot of research about teen sexual health and recommendations to reduce STIs. Their recommendation to make it easier for young people to get condoms made headlines last week (click here, here, and here to see what I’m talking about). But there is a lot more to this report than making condoms fall from the sky. So in a nutshell, here’s what they suggest:
- Doctors should promote abstinence (aka NOT having sex) as the best way to prevent STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
- They should also encourage the “consistent and correct use of condoms” and other forms of birth control among young people who are sexually active or thinking about becoming sexually active. They should also make it clear that both women and men are responsible for practicing safer sex.
- Doctors should provide education programs that promote communication about “healthy sexual development and sexuality” between parents and children.
- Free and low-cost condoms should be everywhere. A young person is more likely to practice safer sex if condoms are available to them.
- Communities should work together to make condoms and sexual health education more available to young people.
- Doctors (that’s ME!) should tell everyone (that’s YOU!) that making condoms available to young people does not cause them to have sex sooner. As it turns out, young people wait to have sex longer when condoms are more readily available in their community.
At the Corner, we are already doing a lot of this stuff. For example, we have free condoms available in our clinic (there is even a bowl of free condoms in our lobby!). We also have a health coach who meets with patients to talk about abstinence and safer sex practices. We definitely promote communication between parents and teens. And our Theatre Troupe Peer Educators even go into local high schools to inform teens about these issues.
What else do you think we can do to put the AAP’s suggestions into action? Parents, what kind of support could you use? Teens, where else do you think there should be free condoms? Anyone have cool examples of communities or clinics that are doing these things too? Go ahead, inspire us!
P.S. Have a burning question about condoms, birth control, or STIs? Post it to our Ask Us page (it’s anonymous, so you don’t have to give your name), and we’ll answer your question on Friday!