NEW YORK CITY – June 8, 2006 – The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) launched the Healthy Teens Initiative today to make sexual and reproductive health care more accessible to teens. The announcement was made today at Hostos Community College in the Bronx . Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden was joined community leaders, a variety of City agencies, health care providers, and New York City youth in making the announcement.
DOHMH will work with healthcare providers to make high-quality services more accessible to teens using a new toolkit, “ 7 Steps to Provide Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Care to Adolescents in New York City,” which outlines how to strengthen services and make them “teen friendly.” DOHMH is also offering customized trainings at no-cost to health care providers to help them implement toolkit recommendations. This initiative is being piloted in the Bronx and will expand citywide.
Many New York City teens are not getting the sexual and reproductive healthcare that they need to be healthy.
- Nearly 50% of all New York City public high school students have had sexual intercourse. One in ten reports having had sex before the age of 13.
- Only 8% of sexually active teens use birth control pills, the most effective means of preventing pregnancy
- The New York City teen pregnancy in 2004 was 90 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19; however, there were significant disparities across the City. The rates by borough ranged from 62.2 in Staten Island to 127.6 in the Bronx ; and rates by race/ethnicity ranged from 28.1 for Non-Hispanic Whites to 127.0 for Non-Hispanic Blacks.
- Adolescents are at increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases; teen women (aged 15-19) account for about one-third of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections in NYC, the highest rates of infection among all age groups.
- Infants born to adolescent mothers are at increased risk of low birth weight and infant mortality. Adolescent mothers are less likely to finish high school than older mothers and more likely to live in poverty.
“We want to support teenagers in making make good choices about their health and sexuality,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “Not all teenagers choose to become sexually active and we should encourage those who choose to wait. For teenagers who choose to have sex, access to care is essential in preventing pregnancy and STDs. Services that are confidential and teen friendly help our teenagers stay healthy.”
“We know that half of teens are sexually active in high school,” said Deborah Kaplan, Assistant Commissioner for Maternal, Infant, and Reproductive Health. “Many of them are not getting the care they need to obtain birth control, prevent pregnancy, and prevent STDs . We encourage Bronx providers to sign on to this initiative and help make quality services more available to teenagers. ”
Seven Steps to Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Services for Adolescents in New York City
- Guarantee confidentiality and adolescents' rights to consent to sexual and reproductive health care.
- Make services accessible and facilities welcoming.
- Deliver care that is sensitive to each client's culture, ethnicity, community values, religion, language, educational level, sex, gender and sexual orientation.
- Screen all adolescents for sexual and reproductive health issues, substance use, and mental health concerns, and provide appropriate care or referrals .
- Provide risk-reduction counseling and education to every adolescent.
- Provide contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception (EC) to adolescents at risk for pregnancy.
- Offer information, assistance and support for all decisions regarding pregnancy.
The Healthy Teens Initiative is part of Mayor Bloomberg's Healthy Women, Healthy Babies Initiative, launched in 2005 to reduce unintended pregnancy and improve the health of women and children.
In 2003, DOHMH convened a Family Planning Providers Group, made of up healthcare providers and community organizations, to coordinate citywide efforts to reduce the rates of unintended and teen pregnancy. The Group's first priority is ensuring that teens have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. To accomplish this goal, the Group will begin by working to ensure that comprehensive, teen-friendly services are in place, and will expand the initiative to work with parents and adolescents to ensure that adolescents get the services they need.
Teens and parents can also call 311 about free or low-cost confidential adolescent sexual and reproductive health services available at DOHMH STD Clinics and other locations, or for information on the Healthy Teens Initiative.
Sponsors, Partners, and Participants
- NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation
- NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
- Affinity Health Plan
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Academy for Educational Development
- Bronx Community Health Network, Health First/A+ Health Plan
- Center for Community Health Education / Columbia University
- Community Health Care Network
- Children's Aid Society
- The Door
- Metro Plus Health Plan
- Medical and Health Research Association of New York City , Inc. (MHRA) / MIC-Women's Health Services
- Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center
- NYS Coalition for School Based Primary Care
- NYS Academy of Family Physicians
- NYS Department of Health
- New York Civil Liberties Union
- Physicians for Reproductive Health and Choice
- Planned Parenthood of New York City, Inc.
- Reproductive Health Access Project
- The Society for Adolescent Medicine