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Cleveland Teens Address High Rate of STIs in The African-American Community

WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) teen peer educators were invited to speak at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) 38th Annual Legislative Conference, in an effort to raise awareness about the existing health care crisis and health care disparities that exist in the African-American community, as well as the need for medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education for teens.

In coordination with PPFA’s Real Sex Education Week of Action, Gloribel Rodriguez Ruiz and Iesha Kimbrough, teen peer educators in Cleveland, Ohio, participated in a CBC panel presentation titled African Americans and Sexually Transmitted Infections: A Silent Epidemic. During the presentation, the teens highlighted their personal experiences with abstinence-only programs and the dangerous misinformation that exists about sexually transmitted infections among youth.

The teens appeared on the panel at the invitation of the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who was a champion for the health of young people and introduced a resolution on the CDC study indicating that at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection. In honor of Congresswomen Tubbs Jones, Representative Donna Christensen (D- Virgin Islands) sponsored Thursday’s panel discussion.

“We need education programs in our schools that will keep teens healthy — by including information about abstinence as well as contraception, healthy communication, responsible decision making, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “It is time for everyone who cares about teenagers to start focusing on the commonsense solutions that will help solve this problem.”

In light of the fact that one in four women and one in two African-American women has a sexually transmitted infection, Planned Parenthood affiliates and campus Vox® chapters are sponsoring grassroots events and contacting elected officials to raise awareness about the growing need for real sex education.

Recently, a study by Guttmacher Institute found that most federally funded abstinence-only programs do not help delay teens sexual activity. In contrast, the study reports comprehensive sex education programs had a positive impact and should be more widely used. 

A nationwide study conducted by the University of Washington found that teens who had comprehensive sex education were half as likely to become pregnant as teens who had no sex education or who were in abstinence-only programs.

Abstinence-only programs deny teenagers medically accurate information about birth control and sexually transmitted infections. And the message is finally getting out. Twenty-five states have declined federal abstinence-only dollars. Officials in many of those states have expressed clear and unequivocal support for real solutions that give teens the information they need to be healthy and safe.

In the last decade, more than $1.5 billion federal and state dollars have been wasted on dangerous abstinence-only programs that deny teenagers lifesaving information. 

Planned Parenthood affiliates run more than 80 teen peer educators programs at their health centers across the country. Planned Parenthood’s teen peer educators work to educate people in their community on sexuality and sexual health issues.

As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand the power of education to help teens make responsible decisions about their health. Every year we provide five million women, men, and teens worldwide with the health information and services they need to prevent unintended pregnancy and protect their health.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 880 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. We also work with allies worldwide to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.


Tait Sye, 202-973-4840

Published: 09.25.08

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