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Southern Region Still Has Work to Do on Adolescent Sexual Health

COLUMBIA, SC – March 19, 2012 – Two key advocacy and educationorganizations in South Carolina are joining 20 organizations across 10southern states to call for improved sexual health education in theregion as a strategy to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce sexuallytransmitted infections.

Leaders of the New Morning Foundation andthe South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (SC Campaign)cite a new report from Auburn University that finds that nearly 90percent of people in the U.S. South favor the teaching of comprehensivesex education (covering a range of topics) in public schools.

Despite recent declines in teen pregnancy rates in South Carolina,there still exist great disparities between the southern region and therest of the country. This unique 10-state partnership has beenestablished to charter a new course for sex education that willcontribute to closing the disparity between the southern region and therest of the United States when it comes to sexual health among youngpeople. Still, too high teen birth rates in the region are accompaniedby Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates that are the highest nationally forboth females and males and the region ranks 2nd in terms of HIV.

One of the key factors to this Southern sexual health disadvantage isthe region’s focus on abstinence-only sex education, instead of a morecomprehensive approach that also teaches about contraception and ways toprevent sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

“Schools are one part of the solution when it comes to improvingadolescent sexual health,” said Forrest Alton, Chief Executive Officerof the SC Campaign. “Our goal has always been to encourage our state’sleaders to invest in programs with proven efficacy. Schools are only onepart of this equation and substantive change must involve othersthroughout the community.”

The report also highlights opportunities leaders have to improve thesexual health of teenagers in the U.S. South through new federal grantprograms that provide funding for the implementation of comprehensiveprograms.

“Broad public support and new funding opportunities create a realchance for us to ensure teenagers have the information they need to makeresponsible, healthy choices – choices we know can change the course oftheir lives and improve the health of our communities and region,” saidBrandi Parrish Ellison, Associate Director of the New MorningFoundation. “Bringing the South’s sexual health up to speed with therest of the nation can be accomplished with a commitment tocomprehensive sex education.”

The regional group includes 20 organizations from Alabama, Georgia,Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. These organizations have workedtogether since 2010 with support from the Ms. Foundation for Women. Boththe SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the New MorningFoundation have been active in this process, bringing innovative ideasand leadership to the proceedings.

View the full report from Auburn University, “Sexual Health of Young People in the U.S. South: Challenges and Opportunities.”

View South Carolina’s State Profile.


About the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
The mission of the SC Campaign is to prevent adolescentpregnancy in South Carolina through education, technical assistance,public awareness, advocacy and research. To achieve its mission, the SCCampaign works with a variety of programs – public, private, school andcommunity-based – in each of the state’s 46 counties. For moreinformation, visit www.teenpregnancysc.org.

About New Morning Foundation
New Morning Foundation is a non-partisan organization that represents amainstream voice dedicated to creating a stronger, healthier SouthCarolina. This can be accomplished with sound public policies andprograms that support medically accurate reproductive health educationand access to clinical services. For information, please visit www.newmorningfoundation.org