Across the state the teen pregnancy rate continues to decline. Sampson is among the many counties who are experiencing this trend, and according to health department officials, efforts are still being made to keep numbers dropping.
According to statistics released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, birth rates for females ages 15-19 have declined 38.5 percent nationwide from 2006-2014. Locally, those numbers are higher than the national average, but still lower that statistics reported in 2013.
Luke Smith, public health educator for the Sampson County Health Department, said the teen pregnancy rate for Sampson County for females ages 15-19 was down 4.6 percent from the 56.7 percent rate in 2013.
“While the rate dropped, our ranking went from ninth out of 100 counties in 2013 to eighth in 2014,” Smith noted.
The local health agency, Smith added, has been working hard to bring those numbers down, offering a Family Planning service where different birth control methods and education on those methods is offered. Additionally, the health department just hosted the second annual teen health fair, where information on teen pregnancy prevention is provided.
“We’ve partnered with Academic Abundance, Inc. out of Goldsboro in which we teach one class per semester from Hobbton High and Union High,” Smith said. “These students actually come to the health department on a field trip and we teach them about the health department’s services and teen pregnancy prevention. We also teach teen pregnancy prevention classes to other local high school classes upon request.”
Teens are offered free, confidential testing for sexually transmitted diseases through the STD Clinic. Additionally, the clinic offers treatment, counseling and education of HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases. There is not charge for theses services provided by the clinic and appointments are available Monday-Friday, 8-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Walk-ins are also welcome.
“The mission of the Sampson County Health Department is to preserve, protect, and promote the health, environment, and well-being of the citizens of Sampson County,” Smith said. “Public health promotes positive behaviors and prevents illness and injury. The goal is to ensure services are provided to those in need, especially teens.”
According to Kathie Johnson, director of nursing at the health department, charges for these services are based on a sliding feel scale. Some services, however, are provided regardless of the ability to pay.
Because state law allows teens to seek certain services without parental permission, Johnson and Smith say that might have played a part in the teen pregnancy rate dropping.
According to Johnson, N.C. General Statute 90-21.5 states, “Any minor may give effective consent to a physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina for medical health services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of (i) venereal disease and other diseases reportable under G.S. 130A-135, (ii) pregnancy, (iii) abuse of controlled substances or alcohol, and (iv) emotional disturbance.”
These services, Johnson said, are for teens ages 18 and under, confidential (parents will not be notified unless there are positive test results and the health department is unable to successfully contact and/or follow up with the teen) and counseling and clinical services are provided.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.