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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: November 4, 2011


The Delaware Division of Public Health's (DPH) Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Board has created an Adolescent Sexual Health State Plan to help Delawareans become involved in preventing teen pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

The plan outlines the factors that influence teen sexual behavior and pregnancy, and the overwhelming statistics reflecting the social and financial impact of teen child bearing. It also provides goals, objectives and a course of action toward prevention.

The plan was developed as the foundation for a grant from the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). The PREP grant funds programs that are designed to educate adolescents on both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancy and STIs. The plan includes two evidence-based health education programs targeting both the school-based and community-based adolescent populations in reducing teenage pregnancy statewide.

The first health education program, "Making Proud Choices!" will target adolescents ages 11-13 while the program "Be Proud! Be Responsible!" targets adolescents ages 14-19. Targeted sites include areas with high rates of social and economic risks, teen birth rates and STD and HIV/AIDS infection rates, and include the City of Wilmington, Bridgeville/Greenwood, Seaford, Selbyville/Frankford, Milford North/South, lower Christiana, New Castle and Millsboro.

Evaluations of both programs found that adolescents who received either the "Making Proud Choices!" or the "Be Proud! Be Responsible!" curriculum reported less risky sexual behavior than the control groups. The evaluation also found that adolescents who received "Making Proud Choices!" scored higher in condom-use knowledge at the three-, six-, and 12-month follow-up sessions than did those in the control group. Likewise, adolescents who received "Be Proud! Be Responsible!" scored higher on a test of AIDS and STD knowledge, expressed less-favorable attitudes toward risky sexual behavior, and reported weaker intentions to engage in risky sexual behavior than the control group.

The plan emphasizes coordination and collaboration between Delaware state agencies and community organizations serving adolescents. This includes youth, parents and guardians, teachers, service providers, program coordinators, health agency administrators and community members.

These partners will influence the implementation strategies identified in the work plan by working with the education providers and providing feedback. The education providers are school teachers from all 19 school districts in the state, who will participate in training provided by the Sexuality Training Institute.

Judy Herrman, RN, PhD, chair of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Board, stated: "Delaware has some of the highest rates of sexual activity in teens in the nation. This plan will ensure that health care providers, educators, state officials, and advocates keep adolescent-responsible sexual behavior on the radar screen of important public health issues."

While Delaware's teen birth rate has been decreasing for the past decade, the birth rate is much higher than the national average: For 2004-2008, the overall Delaware five-year average teen pregnancy rate for 15-19 year-olds is 65.1 per 1,000 women. Nationally, that number is 39.1 per 1,000, which is a record low for the nation.

DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay agreed, saying "Teen pregnancy is truly a community problem. With a supportive structure that begins with family and broadens to include teachers, health care providers, and community leaders, teens can help set goals for their lives. Goals that should not be derailed due to an unplanned pregnancy."

The plan was developed with public input from stakeholders and youths in roundtable discussions, and first released in August 2011 as the foundation for a grant from the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). Some basic goals of the plan are based on the overall state health plan, "Healthy People 2020" and includes reductions in overall teen pregnancy rates, STIs, and racial, ethnic and geographic-based sexual health disparities.

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Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.