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Abstract

Texas is home to over one million Latino teens who are at risk for negative reproductive health outcomes, such as teen pregnancy and STIs. Teen pregnancy disproportionately impacts the health of Latino teens in Texas and places them at risk of continued high rates of poverty, school dropout, and unemployment unless Texas makes a concerted effort to reduce its teen pregnancy rate. The birth rate among Latina girls is astonishing: 98 per 1000 Latinas (aged 15-19) are giving birth. This translates to over 32,000 births each year among Latina teens, costing almost $98 million in direct medical expenditures and well over $638 million if other costs are included. Most teens become sexually experienced while they are of school age, which translates to an estimated 414,583 sexually experienced Latino students attending Texas public schools. Of these Latino youth, 237,466 report being currently sexually active, and 89,000 report having had four or more sexual partners in their lifetime. While causes of teen pregnancy are complex, the solutions to teen pregnancy are known. Texas needs an effective, comprehensive approach to address the sexual health needs of Texas Latino youth that includes: statewide implementation and monitoring of evidence-based sex education for middle school and high school students, access to reproductive health services for students who are already sexually experienced, and widespread training on adolescent sexual health for teachers, service providers, and parents. By tackling teen pregnancy, we can positively impact the future and well-being of not only Latinos, but of all Texans, and subsequently can contribute to the social and economic success of Texas.

Acknowledgements

Belinda F. Hernandez is a recipient of an Associations of Schools of Public Health/Centers for Disease Control/Prevention Research Center Minority Public Health Fellowship. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Association of Schools of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control, or the Prevention Research Centers.