The Status of Reproductive and Sexual Health in Southern USA: Policy Recommendations for Improving Health Outcomes

Abstract

A review of public health data for the 50 states shows that southern states including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas consistently have the highest teen pregnancy, teen birth, and sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in the USA. Furthermore, these states also lack mandates regarding sexuality education; and when sexuality education is provided, abstinence must be stressed while medically accurate information is not a specific requirement. This article synthesizes findings from recent health data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Guttmacher Institute, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care with research and professional recommendations from the scientific literature. Based on the summary of these findings, the goal of this article is to provide recommendations aimed at addressing sexual health in these states, as well as other states with abstinence-only policies, to help improve the health of young people through preventing unintended pregnancy and STD transmission.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Authors have utilized terminology to describe race/ethnicity according to the language utilized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge Ms. Nicole Cushman and Ms. Jessica Silk for their assistance in reviewing the article.

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Correspondence to Kristen N. Jozkowski.

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Jozkowski, K.N., Crawford, B.L. The Status of Reproductive and Sexual Health in Southern USA: Policy Recommendations for Improving Health Outcomes. Sex Res Soc Policy 13, 252–262 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-015-0208-7

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Keywords

  • Reproductive health
  • Sexual health
  • Teens
  • Southern USA
  • Sex education
  • Policy