More than two thirds (69%) of sexually active New York City teens use condoms, compared to 63% nationwide, according to a new survey of public high school students. But too few sexually active girls are using the pill and other hormonal contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The full report Teen Sexual Activity and Birth Control Use in New York City is available at www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/survey/survey-2007youthsex.pdf. It finds that in New York City:
Postponing sex has many benefits for teens, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. Its the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Teenagers who choose to have sex should know that condoms and long-acting contraceptives are both important.
More Action Needed To Prevent Teen Pregnancy
In 2005, the New York City teen pregnancy rate (including live births, abortions and miscarriages) was 94 per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19. Nationally, the rate was just 76 per 1,000 in 2002 (the most recent year on record). Teen pregnancy rates were highest in the citys poorest neighborhoods the South Bronx (153), East and Central Harlem (142), and North and Central Brooklyn (131).
Teen pregnancy can have serious consequences for mothers and their infants. The vast majority of teen pregnancies (86%) are unintended, and more than half (62%) end in abortion. Teenage parents are less likely to complete high school, and children born to teens are at increased risk of low birth weight, child abuse, behavioral disorders and future poverty.
The new survey suggests that less than half of New York City teens (47%) have ever heard of emergency contraception, a safe, effective method of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex. Awareness was higher among girls (54%) than boys (39%). In New York City, adults 18 and over can purchase Plan B (the only FDA-approved brand of emergency contraceptive pills) without a prescription at pharmacy counters. Plan B is most effective when taken within three days after unprotected sex, and moderately effective up to 5 days the sooner the better.
The Health Department supports various initiatives to help teenagers make the best decisions about their sexual health. These initiatives include:
The reports findings show a clear need to educate New York City teenagers about birth control options. Parents, health care providers and other trusted adults have vital roles to play in helping young people stay safe and healthy.
|Contact: Celina De Leon|
New York City Health Department