Why does teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases remain high in the U.S.
What can healthcare providers do that decrease the rate of teen pregnancy and STD’s in the US?
Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases continue to be an important healthcare issue in the 20th century. Although teen pregnancy rates have dropped there are still concerns and healthcare problems that are associated with teen pregnancy. Often times they are afraid to discuss sex with their parents and deny will deny being sexually active at all. There are problems that manifest with adolescent pregnancy for the mother and often times the infants as well. The high school drop out rate among pregnant high school students is approximated at about 70 percent and is cited as the number reason teens drop out prior to graduation. There is also an estimated $7 billion revenue cost associated with teen pregnancy in the United States alone. The risk of young people engaging in early sexual intercourse is largely due to the lack of sexual education, peer pressure and social influences.
Chlamydial infection, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, primary and secondary syphilis, and hepatitis B virus infection are amid the highest reported STDs with chlamydia noted as the most dominate which is likely due to the fact that there is more vigorous testing. Some of the other noted STDs are genital herpes, trichomoniasis, Chancroid, and HPV. Often times and without any signs or symptoms present more than one pathogen is involved with sexually transmitted diseases. Typically the only environments in which there remain viable pathogens is the bodily fluids from the genitourinary tract requiring there to be intimate contact for them to be acquired.
Although it affects men and women chlamydia is predominately seen in young women and is the most common nationally known sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. Bodily fluids from the genitourinary tract are typically the environments in which there remain viable pathogens, so intimate contact is generally required to obtain STDs. Chlamydia infections are asymptomatic in most women and can be transmitted during childbirth with the potential of a newborn developing pneumonia as a complication. If it is not treated chlamydia can spread to the uterus and fallopian tube creating further health problems and permanent damage to the reproductive system.
Teaching abstinence is the most affective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs but sexuality and curiosity of sex begins at a young age and exploration into sexuality is a natural part of personal development. The role and responsibility as healthcare providers is to provide adolescents and teens with the information and risk factors involved with having sex. They need to be educated on contraceptives, pregnancy and STD prevention.
There is an urgent need for programs that adequately addresses the impacts of peer groups, social norms and the influences they have on an adolescents decision about having sex (Kalmuss, Davidson, Cohall, Laraque, & Cassell, 2011). The literature indicates that engaging in a comprehensive sex education which teaches both abstinence and contraception could lead to delayed initiation of and frequency of sex, a decrease in the number of partners and an increase in the use of contraception which may also lead to a reduction of adolescent and teen pregnancy (Basch, 2011).Providing such knowledge about pregnancy, sex, contraceptive use and STD will also provide a foundation and direction in making responsible choices.