The Health Challenges Are Daunting
Our syphilis rate is 10 times the state and national rates. Gonorrhea is double the statewide rate. We have the highest chlamydia rate in the state—also double the statewide and national rates. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, hospitalization, and infertility. We continue to find 300-400 new HIV cases each year.
It’s not just sexually transmitted infections. The teen birth rate in Shelby County is higher than both the state and national rates. We serve many counties in the Mid-South struggling to tackle this problem. The teen birth rate in Tunica County, Mississippi, for example, is twice Shelby County’s rate.
Social determinants of health drive these rates, such as education and poverty.
Lack Of Sex Education Is Appalling
60% of our high schoolers have had sexual intercourse. 33% reported NOT using a condom at last intercourse. And nearly 23% of these sexually active teens report having had four or more sexual partners.
The serious lack of education about sexual issues is causing preventable health problems, creating stress and trauma, and putting our teens’ futures at risk. Pervasive ignorance and fear of sexuality in our community, conflicting views on reproductive and fact-based sexual health education, and a hostile political climate result in many schools in our region not offering sex education classes at all.
Our Reproductive Rights Are Hanging By A Thread
Abortion is one of the safest procedures in contemporary medical practice, and this has been true for decades. Yet oppressive abortion regulations are being enacted in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi under the pretense that they make abortion safer for women. In fact they have the opposite effect: endangering American women.
Our opponents’ real goal is to make safe, legal abortion inaccessible and thus drive women into the back alley once again. Regulations on abortion in our region are unethical: increasing risks to women, limiting treatment choices, and making adequate care dependent on where you live and how much money you have. We know that anti-abortion politicians in our region are just getting started. The same forces who want to coerce women to carry pregnancies have placed unreasonable limits on comprehensive sex education in our schools, demonized and bullied the LGBTQ community, and now they are coming after contraception.