FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2020
CONTACT: Megan R. Smith, Brownstone, [email protected], 215.410.9879
PENNSYLVANIA TEENS THRIVE
With Sexual and Reproductive Telehealth Support from AccessMatters
PHILADELPHIA, PA, June 25, 2020 — AccessMatters kicks off its THRIVE campaign, encouraging high school-aged youth, 13-19 years old, in key counties across Pennsylvania to easily connect with a trained sexual and reproductive health counselor in their area simply by texting.
In March 2020, after schools across Pennsylvania moved to online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, critical in-school programs were forced to pivot and move their services online to ensure young people could still connect with staff for vital information and resources.
The Health Resource Center Program, led by AccessMatters, is one such program that has shifted its service delivery model. The Health Resource Center Program utilizes private spaces within schools or existing community sites to create places where high school-aged youth across Pennsylvania can receive non-judgmental, medically-accurate counseling, education, and referrals to community-based sexual and reproductive health and related services. This education and counseling model supports critical thinking around sexual activity, encourages healthy relationships, and promotes the benefits of both abstinence and safer sexual behavior.
During COVID-19, AccessMatters has worked to replace these physical safe spaces with virtual ones, creating the opportunity for Pennsylvania high school-aged youth, 13-19 years old, to get their questions answered and connect with a trained sexual and reproductive health counselor in their area by texting THRIVE to 833-667-3377 or calling AccessMatters’ Information Hotline at 1-800-848-3367. Pennsylvania high school-aged youth are able to take advantage of telehealth, with AccessMatters’ program partners and community sites available to provide individual and confidential counseling and education and connect them to care if needed. All they have to do is text. For those Pennsylvania counties that have moved to “green”, a few Health Resource Center program partners are providing in-person services as well as telehealth. A full list of Health Resource Center Program partners can be found here.
“We know young people seek out information and education related to their sexual health and healthy relationships, and that need continues and even in the midst of a pandemic,” said Melissa Weiler Gerber, AccessMatters’ President & CEO. “As we all navigate this new normal, it has been critical to support our clinical and community partners to transition to telehealth services to ensure that youth across Pennsylvania remain able to get the sexual and reproductive health care they need.”
Although the national teen birth rate has declined by 70% since 1991 according to 2017 data from the CDC, pockets of the country still have high rates of unintended pregnancy, and half of all new STDs reported nationally each year are among young people age 15 to 24. Philadelphia and several other counties in Pennsylvania are among those pockets, with high rates of chlamydia that, in many cases, coincide with high rates of unintended pregnancy and other STDs among youth.
Health Resource Centers have been a critical resource to many Pennsylvania communities in addressing these issues, resulting in the following in those areas served by Health Resource Centers:
- An increase in the number of high school-aged youth in high-need counties with access to quality sexual and reproductive health education and counseling to better inform their health decisions,
- An increase in the number of high school-aged youth in high-need counties with access to tools to decrease risk of unintended pregnancy and HIV and STDs.
The Health Resource Center Program is grounded in the belief that youth benefit in their growth and development from having a trusted adult to talk with about their sexual health, healthy relationships, and any other issues they may be facing. All youth in the Health Resource Center program are connected to such an adult, and are also encouraged to talk to their families or another trusted adult about their sexual health.
As we adjust and evolve to meet the needs of our time, AccessMatters is committed to ensuring that young people remain connected to information and care. The aim of THRIVE is to inform students of vital sexual and reproductive resources available to them. The campaign is currently running across Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms popular among teens.
To learn more, visit www.accessmatters.org/thrive.
AccessMatters’ mission is to protect, expand, and enhance equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care and information for all people. For more information about AccessMatters’ programs, visit http://www.AccessMatters.org, @AccessMatters4U on Twitter, and @AccessMatters on Facebook.