Weekly Feature

2016-12-21 / Editorial

HOPE Buffalo initiative serves more than youth

Bee Editorial

A new collaborative project has the lofty goal of reducing the rate of teen pregnancy by 30 percent by the year 2020.

While the project will need a hearty collective effort on behalf of the several agencies involved, the ultimate goal is worth the daunting amount of work required to get there.

In certain areas within the county, the average teen birth rate in 2012 was 61.3 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19. This is more than three times greater than New York State’s (excluding New York City) average of 18.5 per 1,000 and the 2013 national teen birth rate of 26.5 per 1,000 women.

The new initiative will seek to:

• Advocate for the prevention of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS among Buffalo’s youth.

• Promote equitable access to comprehensive sexuality education and reproductive health. • Empower youth to make informed decisions about their health.

The community coalition of organizations supporting HOPE Buffalo will not only ensure that teens have access to both health education and health care providers, but it will also respect the right of teens to make their own decisions and set their own goals.

HOPE Buffalo is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health to the Erie County Department of Health.

Last month, more than 25 primary care providers successfully completed an in-person, full-day medical education seminar on how to approach contraception with adolescents.

Local health care providers explored strategies for offering teen-friendly, comprehensive, confidential health care services, including reproductive health. Providers learned approaches to creating “alone time” with adolescent patients and creating the opportunity for a confidential, non-judgmental discussion about sexual health services and available contraceptive options.

The long-term relationships that adolescents and their families create and sustain with their primary care providers will allow them to engage in healthy decision-making when it comes to contraceptive use.

If the HOPE Buffalo initiative accomplishes even a fraction of its intended goal, a measurable impact in the lives of these teens will be made. In working to ensure that youth have access to health education and health care providers, the project will help to tangibly create a healthy future for the community as a whole.

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