Sexual Health of Young People in the South

New Report Underscores Challenges Faced by Young People in the South and Need for Sexual Health Education 

March 16, 2012 — On the heels of new report released today on the sexual health of young people in the South, G-CAPP is joining a diverse group of 20 organizations across the South to call for improved sexual health education. The report, “Sexual Health of Young People in the U.S. South: Challenges and Opportunities,” released by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Center for Demographic Research, provides a comprehensive view of teenage pregnancy and births, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV/AIDS of 10 southern states, including Georgia, underscores the critical need for age appropriate, medically accurate sexual health education in the region. 

 

During the week of March 19, these organizations are mobilizing in communities throughout the region (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia) to raise awareness about poor sexual health in the South and advocate for change.  

 

Analyzing the South’s teenage birth rate, rates of sexually transmitted infections, and other key data, the report found that the Southern region ranks worse than any other region in sexual health. The teenage birth rate, for example, is highest in the U.S. South. Poor sexual health also comes with real public costs, noted the report’s authors. For example, in 2008 alone, an estimated $2.3 billion from federal, state and local governments was spent on expenses related to teenage childbearing in 10 Southern states. According to the report, Georgia, which has seen a recent decline in teen births, still has one of the highest teen pregnancy and birth rates in the country, has extremely high rates of sexually transmitted diseases for teenage girls between 15 and 19, and has nearly double the national rate of new HIV cases. 

 

The report also highlights opportunities decision-makers have to improve the sexual health of teenagers in the U.S. South, including new federal grant programs for adolescent sexual health and teen pregnancy prevention, which provide funding for the implementation of evidence-based and evidence-informed programs that teach young people how to delay sexual activity and avoid risky sexual behaviors. Among other topics, these approaches include information about abstinence but also teach information on healthy relationships, contraception and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. The report also found that nearly 90 percent of people in the U.S. South favor the teaching of sex education (covering a range of topics) in public schools. 

 

The regional group advocating for improved sexual health education includes 20 organizations from across Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. These organizations have worked together since 2010 with support from the Ms. Foundation for Women. “Sexual Health of Young People in the U.S. South: Challenges and Opportunities,” by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Center for Demographic Research, focuses its analysis on these same 10 states.

 

Read the full report here.


Read the Georgia profile here.