Nacogdoches health care providers seek to curb rising teen pregnancy rates

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Health Horizons is taking on the serious issue of teen pregnancy and STD-HIV rates in East Texas.

It's publicizing a community mobilization training to address the alarming findings.  The problem is becoming much too large for just one non-profit agency to tackle. It's a community issue that is quickly getting out hand.

Along those lines, free STD-HIV testing happened today on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus. Recent health horizon findings indicate a high school campus would be another good place to offer the screenings.

"Teen pregnancy rate right now is 21 percent for Nacogdoches county - a 21 percent teen pregnancy rate," Gary Roberts, a prevention coordinator for Health Horizons, said. "It's an indicator of unprotected sexual activity, which also leads to STD's and HIV."

"In our area, Nacogdoches is ranked number 8 for as Chlamydia and number 5 for gonorrhea rates in our county, Nacogdoches," Roberts said.

Part of the problem is that this sexually transmitted disease can be asymptomatic.

"Too often, persons don't seek out testing and treatment for it because they themselves feel fine," Tammy Foskey, the manager of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in a phone interview.

So teens don't get screened, which could lead to long-term complications, and if they get pregnant, even more health issues can arise.

"Our young people are taking more risks between the ages of 13 and 24," Roberts said. "The rates are climbing again, so our objective is to try to get them in to get them tested to bring about awareness."

"A lot of students here go off of what their friends do, so if one friends says lets go get tested, the majority will follow," Melody Victorian, an SFA student and a Health Horizons intern, said.

Health Horizons is calling for action by forming a community mobilization team. Parents, teachers, and health professionals, and Roberts said others are needed "from churches - we're even reaching out to the pastors because it's important that everybody come together and address this as a community."

Action committees are being formed now. An organizational meeting will be on February 28 at noon at Health horizons of East Texas Board Room at 412 North Street in Nacogdoches.

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