Youth Sexual Health
Sexual health is attained through the development of skills that support lifelong physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. In addition to information about human anatomy and physiology, sexual health includes knowledge and skills related to:
- Decision-making and goal setting about when and if to have a family
- Creating safe relationships
- Developing self-acceptance and a positive identity
- Communicating with health professionals, partners and families
Denver and Colorado have seen significant improvements in youth sexual health. Over the last decade, teen birth rates have declined, sexual activity among youth is slightly below the national average, and more youth are using contraception when they do have sex. In Denver, teen birth rates have decreased by approximately 50% since 1991.
However, there is still progress to be made to ensure that sexual health-related choices do not result in negative outcomes for youth.
- Among the female Denver youth in grades 9 - 12 who reported that they were currently sexually active, 31% reported using hormonal contraception at last sex
- 69% of 15 - 19 year old mothers in Denver report that their pregnancy was unintended
- Chlamydia rates remain elevated in Denver, relative to other areas in Colorado
As part of advancing youth health in Denver, we support Denver youth in developing a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and relationships, including the possibility of having safe and wanted sexual experiences - free of coercion, discrimination and violence. DPH supports community-based youth development programming and systems changes to promote youth sexual health. DPH also provides anonymous STD testing and birth control and family planning services to Denver youth and is nationally recognized for its expertise in testing for and treating sexually transmitted infections.