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As you are waiting for the El or the Broad Street line, you may see yourself staring at a new, bold advertisement that reads “Your Sexual Health Matters.” These new advertisements are part of a unique marketing campaign geared towards teens ages 14 to 19. The campaign, launched by Family Planning Council’s I MATTER Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project, focuses on sending positive messages to teens about their sexual health. The messages encourage teens to make appointments for sexual and reproductive health services including free or low-cost birth control and pregnancy, STD and HIV testing.
“If we are going to curb teen pregnancy in our city, we can’t be afraid to talk openly about sex,” said Melissa Weiler Gerber, Executive Director ofFamily Planning Council. “Our teens need to know there are resources out here to help them take control of this important aspect of their health.”
The campaign, created for teens with messages from their peers, encourages teens to visit an I MATTER Health Center for free or low-cost, confidential sexual and reproductive health services. I MATTER Health Centers offer free or low-cost birth control, free condoms, and pregnancy, STD and HIV testing for teens. Advertisements direct teens to visit the IMATTERPhilly.org website or to call 800-848-3367 to reach CHOICE, a confidential, reproductive health care hotline that refers callers to a family planning provider that best meets their needs.
“I feel as though this campaign could be an influential and powerful change for teenagers all over since teens need more motivation from other teens instead of hearing the adult’s point of view,” said Kennay DeShields, a teen who lives in West Philadelphia. “We are doing something positive by letting teens know there are people in this world who actually do care about their health and well-being,”
I MATTER Health Centers partner with the Family Planning Council’s I MATTER project, which works to reduce teen birth rates in West and Southwest Philadelphia. I MATTER is funded through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), and is one of nine projects nationwide participating in President Obama’s national Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative.
The #YourSexualHealthMatters campaign will run during February and March with radio advertisements on 107.9 FM and advertisements on SEPTA platforms and in subway cars on the Market Street EL and Broad Street line. Social media outreach and traditional street outreach in targeted neighborhoods and schools will supplement the SEPTA and radio advertising. I MATTER Health Centers are actively working to improve teen services and receive ongoing specialized training and assistance to help ensure their health centers are teen-friendly. I MATTER community partners are promoting the campaign in their day to day activities by distributing posters, postcards, and flyers throughout West and Southwest Philadelphia.
Messages on social media also will encourage teens to learn more about long-acting reversible birth control methods so that they are fully informed and can choose what is best for them. Long-acting reversible birth control methods including intrauterine devices (IUDs) are highly effective, and do not require teens to remember to take action each day like with birth control pills. They are more effective than other methods including withdrawal and birth control pills which have a higher failure rate due to improper or inconsistent use.
Both the CDC and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognize long-active reversible birth control as safe and effective birth control options for teens. The campaign emphasizes the importance of condom use and STD and HIV testing since long-acting reversible birth control methods protect against pregnancy, but do not protect against STDs and HIV.
“Getting teens comfortable coming in for services or answers to their questions is at least half the battle,” said Weiler Gerber. “Once teens are there, we make sure that high-quality health care providers are trained to work with teens in a sensitive and confidential manner to discuss their sexual health.”