By Grace Austin
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has recently launched a campaign and website to reduce unintended pregnancy, STD rates, and raise awareness on sexual health. The campaign is focusing on heterosexual and homosexual young adults. It also provides information and ads in both Spanish and English, a strategy to appeal to the more than 1 million Hispanics living in the state.
The Beforeplay.org website is part of a partnership between the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy (CI). The CI is a coalition of organizations providing “low-cost family planning services, educational efforts, and advocacy.”
Beforeplay.org provides information about STDs, birth control options, pregnancy planning, sexual health conversation starters, and the nearest health center and emergency contraception locations. Educational materials for healthcare providers and personal stories are also available on the site. The campaign has also utilized technology, providing a text line for sexual health-related questions.
“Based on research we know that young people are actively seeking information about sexual health online and very often through their phones. When we were developing Beforeplay.org, we heard again and again from young people that they wanted an easy-to-access, trustworthy place to go to get information about sexual health and well-being,” says Greta Klinger, family planning supervisor for the CDPHE. “It’s important to note that we also heard from young people that they wanted to talk with the partners, friends, family, and healthcare providers about these issues, but they were not comfortable or didn’t know how to start the conversations.”
The statistics surrounding STDs and unwanted pregnancies are astounding, and are particularly high for teens and young adults. According to the American Pregnancy Association, every year in the U.S. almost half a million babies are born to women without adequate prenatal care. Over 700,000 people contract new gonorrheal infections, according to the CDC.
Often unintended pregnancies and STDs affect the poor, those without health insurance, and minorities more so than their peers. According to the CDPHE, 44.4 percent of unintended births were by Hispanic mothers. A lack of knowledge about contraception and ambivalence often add to these statistics.
“Unfortunately, as with many health issues, we see disparities between the Hispanic and Black populations in unintended pregnancy rates compared to their white counterparts or population overall. Hispanic and black women are more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy,” says Klinger.
“We are working to ensure that every person in Colorado, regardless of racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic background has access to the information and services they need to live the healthiest, most successful lives possible. Unintended pregnancy has a major impact on the health, social, and economic well-being of those who experience it.”