Jamaica Gleaner - - HEALTH -

ONTRACEPTION AND Young Peo­ple: A Fo­cus on Zika’ was the fo­cus of this year’s World Con­tra­cep­tion Day (WCD), ob­served each year on Septem­ber 26.

Un­der the en­dorse­ment of the Na­tional Fam­ily Plan­ning Board – Sex­ual Health Agency (NFPB-SHA), this year the ob­ser­vance of the day was even more poignant given the po­ten­tial im­pact of the Zika epi­demic in Ja­maica and the role that ac­cep­tance and use of con­tra­cep­tives can have in mit­i­gat­ing con­cep­tion as well as the sex­ual trans­mis­sion of Zika.

This is crit­i­cal in light of the global ev­i­dence on the se­que­lae of Zika in­fec­tion – the po­ten­tial risk of mi­cro­cephaly in ba­bies born to in­fected moth­ers and also a risk of Guil­lan Barre Syn­drome, a par­a­lytic con­di­tion, in in­fected per­sons.

Fo­cus­ing on the im­pli­ca­tions of Zika and the im­por­tance of con­tra­cep­tion, es­pe­cially among the sex­u­ally ac­tive, in­clud­ing young peo­ple, the World Con­tra­cep­tion Day cam­paign cen­tred around a vi­sion where ev­ery preg­nancy is planned through con­sis­tent and cor­rect con­tra­cep­tive use. WCD’s mis­sion since 2007 has been to im­prove aware­ness of con­tra­cep­tion and to en­able young peo­ple to make in­formed choices on their sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health. The vi­sion and mis­sion of WCD are in sync with the NFPBSHA’s own over­all vi­sion – that of all Ja­maicans en­joy­ing op­ti­mum health in an en­vi­ron­ment where their sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive rights are re­spected, pro­tected and ful­filled. It is well doc­u­mented that hav­ing sex at an early age in­creases the risk of be­com­ing preg­nant while in school or con­tract­ing and pass­ing on a STI, in­clud­ing HIV/AIDS. Ac­cord­ing to the last Re­pro­duc­tive Health Sur­vey (2008

RHS), the early on­set of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity in Ja­maica among boys and girls, is 14 and 16 years, re­spec­tively. This is rea­son enough to heighten the re­sponse, as un­planned preg­nancy rates are par­tic­u­larly high among sex­u­ally ac­tive teens. Here in Ja­maica and the wider Caribbean, many teens are not us­ing, and may not even know about, con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods, much less long-act­ing re­versible meth­ods such as the in­trauter­ine de­vice (IUD) or hor­monal im­plants. Ac­cord­ing


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