May 8, 2013 – The Health Department unveiled new data today showing the City’s teen pregnancy rate hit a new low, falling 30 percent in the last decade, including 5 percent just from 2010 to 2011. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley made this announcement today at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Diagnostic Treatment Center in the Bronx, a Health and Hospitals Corporation clinic. Commissioner Farley was joined by Dr. Amanda Ascher, Medical Director, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Dr. Danielle Laraque, American Academy of Pediatrics, Violet Fredericks, Policy Advisor, Office of State Sen. Gustavo Rivera and Zoe McCall, Bronx Teens Connection Member.
Between 2001 and 2011, city efforts have led to a decline in the teen pregnancy rate in New York City from 98.7 pregnancies per 1,000 females to 69.2 pregnancies per 1,000 females. However, there are still more than 17,000 teen pregnancies annually, 87 percent of which are unintended. As part of the City’s strategy to provide teens with the information and resources they need to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, the Health Department developed the Teens in NYC – Protection +mobile appto help teens locate free, confidential reproductive health services.
Health care providers listed in the app follow the Best Practices in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care for Adolescents, a set of guidelines developed as part of the Mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative. The Young Men’s Initiative was launched in 2011 and is designed to address disparities between young black and Latino men and their peers, including health disparities. The Young Men's Initiative helps young men and women access sexual and reproductive health services, and supports other efforts to provide young people with the skills and resources they need to have a healthy future.
“The City’s efforts over the last decade have already led to fewer teens becoming pregnant each year in New York City,” said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. “Health care guidelines created through the Young Men’s Initiative will help even more teens avoid unintended pregnancy so they can finish their education.”
“Not having sex is the surest way to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,” said Commissioner Farley. “But for teens who are having sex, it is important to use birth control and condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. The Teens in NYC mobile app provides information in ways that are familiar to teens so they can access to these services.”
The Best Practices in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care for Adolescents have been endorsed by: The New York State Department of Health, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, District II, NYS, the Academy of Family Physicians, New York County and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, NYS.
Before a provider can be included in the Teens in NYC – Protection +mobile app, it must complete a Clinical Assessment online. All listed providers also receive calls by teens who pose as potential clients. There are currently 60 providers listed in the Teens in NYC – Protection +mobile app. The Teens in NYC – Protection +mobile app is periodically updated to include qualified providers.
Despite the decline in teen pregnancy rates, the Bronx still has the highest rate in New York City with 95.9 pregnancies per 1,000 females. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Department has implemented the Bronx Teens Connection, a community-wide initiative in two South Bronx communities, Hunts Point and Morrisania. Bronx Teens Connection is a partnership with government agencies, clinics, high schools, and youth-serving organizations. Program components include comprehensive sexual health education in high school and community-based settings, assuring access to clinical services, and engaging community-based partners and stakeholders to raise awareness and support for effective teen pregnancy prevention strategies.
The Health Department developed the Teens in NYC – Protection +mobile app to appeal to young people who now use smartphones to access information and services. The app is available on the Apple and Android platforms and features three main sections:
Where To Go – allows users to search for providers by address, borough or location closest to them
What To Get – provides brief descriptions of birth control methods
What To Expect – includes three short videos about teens accessing birth control and other sexual health services with the emphasis placed on the importance of dual protection (condoms and another form of birth control) to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
“Health care providers at New York City’s public hospitals and health centers recognize that adolescents have specific needs, and we are prepared to meet those needs regardless of a teenager’s ability to pay or immigration status,” said Alan D. Aviles, President of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). “The teen mobile app will make it easy for young people to locate confidential, high quality, affordable care.”
“There are many safe and effective birth control methods for adolescents. All health care providers serving teens should ask about sexual activity and provide or refer sexually active teens for contraception and other reproductive health services,” said Dr. Danielle Laraque, Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, New York State, District II. “The American Academy of Pediatrics applauds the NYC Health Department for developing the Teens in NYC – Protection +mobile app to make it easy for teens to find confidential, teen-friendly sexual and reproductive health services.”
“While the City’s efforts over the last decade have led to a decline in teen pregnancies, Bronx teens still face high rates of unplanned pregnancies,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera. “We must continue to find ways to make information about safe sex and the resources teens need to make better choices more accessible. I am pleased that The Teens in NYC – Protection + mobile app provides teenagers access to information that can help them make informed decisions in an innovative way.”
“Planned Parenthood of New York City is committed to supporting programs that promote factual information about sexual and reproductive health services and information for teens to help reduce teen pregnancy,” said Haydee Morales, Vice President of Education and Training at Planned Parenthood of New York City. “New York City has made impressive progress towards that goal, reducing teen pregnancy by 30 percent in the past decade. The administration deserves praise for developing and releasing this app to provide teens with the important information that they need and want. Teens in New York City have the right to receive reproductive and sexual health care. With innovative and inclusive initiatives like this new smart phone app, New York City can continue to reduce teen pregnancy.”
The Teens in NYC – Protection +mobile app will be promoted through an innovative online social media marketing campaign through Facebook, and radio promotion on 97.1 FM (Hot 97) including air personality endorsements, digital banners, van appearances and palm card distribution in certain communities. The Health Department will also launch a radio campaign on 97.9 FM (La Mega).
Resources for Teens, Parents, and Health Care Providers
Teens or their parents can call 311 to find out how to get free or low-cost contraceptives, locate confidential health services at community clinics and learn about parenting support services. Under New York State Law, a minor has the right to obtain confidential reproductive health care, including contraception, without the consent of a parent or guardian. While young people should be encouraged to talk with their parent or another trusted adult, not all young people can or will do this.
Free copies of the Teens in NYC guide and other publications such as How to Prevent Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections Health Bulletin can also be ordered via 311 or accessed online at nyc.gov.
Health care providers can use the search term “Adolescent Sexual Health” at nyc.gov to access resources for providing quality reproductive health services for adolescents including the Best Practices in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care for Adolescents and the Quick Guide to Contraception.
For teens who are pregnant, the Health Department’s Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visiting by a public health nurse. The program has been proven to improve the health, well-being and self-sufficiency of low-income, first-time mothers and their children. The program is voluntary and services are provided at no cost to the client.
The NYC Teen website provides information on workplace training and employment opportunities for teens while also providing easy-to-navigate pages on such issues as depression, pregnancy prevention and healthy eating.The site serves as a portal to government-sponsored programs and services that can help make a difference in the life of a teen.
For more information about sexual and reproductive health care available for teens, call 311 or visit nyc.gov.