Adolescent Sexual Health

Adolescence is a critical period of human development marked by significant cognitive, social, and emotional changes. Risk-taking is a hallmark of adolescence, through which young people test out their burgeoning independence while still developing the ability to evaluate consequences. 

Part of this risk-taking occurs as young people experience and explore sexual feelings. A large proportion of American youth are engaging in sexual behaviors that can result in HIV, STIs, and unintended pregnancy. Young people aged 13-24 account for more than 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses, and half of the 20 million annual STD infections in the nation occur among youth. Young people of color and LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to be impacted by HIV, STDs, and unintended teen pregnancies and less likely to receive culturally responsive health services and sex education.

Local health departments play a critical role in ensuring that adolescents receive access to developmentally-appropriate and culturally-responsive health services and sex education, and promoting the view that sexual and reproductive health are integral to adolescents’ well-being. 

NACCHO works closely with a variety of partners who are leading initiatives to support adolescent sexual health. Check out some of the resources our partners have developed and apply them in your jurisdiction, as appropriate.

  1. Buffalo Public Schools Condom Availability Program Policy: Condom availability program policy and timeline approved by the Board of Education in Buffalo, NY.
  2. Project Connect Implementation Guide: CDC-developed resource to support LHD-led, school-based STD screening programs.
  3. How Schools Work & How to Work with Schools: A NASBE-developed resource for organizations seeking to partner with schools on public health projects.
  4. Establishing Organizational Partnerships to Increase Student Access to Sexual Health Services: A resource guide for schools and public health partners with sample policies and procedures.
  5. Developing a Referral System for Sexual Health Services: An implementation kit for schools and public health partners student referrals.