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Youth Sexual Health

Sexual health is the integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual well-being in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love. Sexual health includes not only the physical aspects of sexual development and reproductive health, but also valuing one’s own body, developing interpersonal skills to achieve meaningful relationships, interacting with others in a manner that reflects respect and equality and expressing love and intimacy, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Sexual health encompasses the following areas of prevention: teen pregnancy prevention, STI/HIV prevention, sexual violence prevention, disparities related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) populations, and health disparities related to race, ethnicity, physical ability and socioeconomic status.

 

Equitable access to health care, education and economic opportunity establishes the foundation for every youth to succeed. In addition to comprehensive health information and skills, youth must have hopes and dreams for their future, have goals to work toward, and receive support and guidance from caring, trusted adults. All Colorado youth, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability, gender, socioeconomic status and geographic location, deserve to make informed and responsible decisions about their health.

 

Sexual health is one aspect of a young person’s life that is intimately linked to overall health and wellness. How youth use information about sex and relationships impacts how they plan their educational and economic future, how they plan for a future with or without children, and how they communicate with their family, friends, and partners about what matters most to them.

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We are excited to be sharing Youth Sexual Health in Colorado: A Call to Action with you! Click here for the document. We hope that it will serve as a resource for your work.

 

The Call to Action addresses youth and young adults (ages 9-24), families and communities across the state of Colorado and provides strategies for communities to improve the health of young people by:

  1. decreasing rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;
  2. decreasing the rates of unintended teen pregnancy;
  3. decreasing the incidence of sexual assault and dating violence; and
  4. increasing participation by youth in educational and career opportunities.

 

The project team worked in partnership with young people and communities across Colorado, and conducted focus groups and community conversations in Pueblo, Boulder, Aurora, Glenwood Springs and Greeley in addition to a statewide community survey in which 52 Colorado counties were represented. Strategies are recommended for each of the settings that have influence over a young person’s life – policy and systems, community, family network and the individual. A sample action plan for communities is also provided.

 

Now that this document has been launched, our department is working to implement it by hosting launch events across the state, hosting training opportunities and giving technical assistance on how to use the document in individual communities.

 

Additional Call to Action Resources:

  • You can see the Denver metro launch event and see a Live Stream event that looks at the document in more depth. More resources will be posted here as they are developed.
  • Read the Executive Summary here
  • Access the Appendix here
  • Check out Colorado9to25 for more updates and resources as they become available.

Please let us know what you think of the document and how you've been able to utilize it in your work by emailing maryjane.cassalia@state.co.us or calling 303-692-2492. We’d love to hear your feedback in order to further our work in Colorado.

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- Fact sheets coming soon!

- Colorado Youth Matter's State of Adolescent Health (SASH) Report:

  • Among the notable data from the 2012 report:
    • Approximately 41% of Colorado high school students report ever having had sex
      Colorado's birthrate has decreased by 40.4% between 1991 and 2010 for females ages 15-19.
    • There were nearly 800 fewer births to teens in 2010 than the previous year in Colorado.
    • Of all Colorado HIV cases reported between 2006-2010, 15% of new cases were diagnosed among youth 13-25 years of age.
       

- Colorado Health Indicators:

  • These indicators are organized based on the Health Equity Model, which takes into account a wide range of factors that influence health. This model groups the social determinants of health into:
  • Life course perspective: how populations are impacted differently during the various stages of life
  • Social determinants of health: societal influence, such as economic opportunity, physical environment and social factors that play critical roles in the length and quality of life
  • Health factors: components of health behaviors and conditions, mental health and access, utilization and quality of health care
  • Population health outcomes: measures of quality of life, morbidity, mortality and life expectancy


- National Adolescent and Young Adult Health Information Center, a national resource for adolescent health information and research

 

- CDPHE Child and Adolescent Survey Results

 

- CDC – Current HIV/STI Statistics

 

- CDC – Current Teen Pregnancy Statistics 

 

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Resources for Parents
- Coming soon!


Resources for Youth
- MyLifeColorado.com is an interactive website where you can receive honest and comprehensive information about sexually transmitted infections. It has real life examples of ways you can make informed decisions and talk to your partner, friends and trusted adults about what you want in a relationship. Check it out!
- More coming soon!


Resources for Professionals

Local resources:
- Colorado Sex Education in Schools Snapshot:  2012 Report
- Colorado Youth Matter's State of Adolescent Health (SASH) Report
Other Colorado Youth Matter publications
- Youth Sexual Health in Colorado: A Call To Action

 

National and State Policy Considerations
- Colorado Sexuality Laws: Consensual Sex, Statutory Rape, Child Molestation, Access to Health Care, Confidentiality

- National Conference of State Legislators Teen Pregnancy Prevention

- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health

- The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Freeze Frame 2012: A Snapshot of America’s Teens
 

Public Health Curriculum Considerations
- Evidence-based programs – Office of Adolescent Health
- CDC Recommendations – Guidelines for Effective School Health Education to Prevent the Spread of AIDS
- Colorado Academic Standards Instructional Alignment Crosswalk in accordance with Healthy Youth Act 1292
 

Additional Resources
- Being an Askable Adult

- “My Life Colorado” – STI/HIV prevention
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

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Anne-Marie Braga
Population and Community Health Unit Manager
Children, Youth and Families Branch
303-692-2946
www.colorado.gov/cdphe

 

Mary Jane C. Cassalia, MPA
Youth Health Specialist
Children Youth and Families Branch
303-692-2492
www.colorado.gov/cdphe