As North Carolinians celebrate another announced decline in the state’s teen pregnancy rate, advocates in Gaston County are celebrating an additional victory: Gaston County has eliminated the disparity between African American and White teens.
For the first year on record, Gaston County’s African American teen pregnancy rate was 40.4 per 1,000 15-19 year old girls, lower than the county’s white teen pregnancy rate of 41.1.
Since 2010, Gaston County has participated in the Gaston Youth Connected (GYC) initiative. GYC is a project of APPCNC and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The project rallies community support and engagement to connect youth to evidence-based programs and clinical services, and increases the community’s infrastructure to support adolescent health.
More than 1,300 youth have participated in Gaston Youth Connected programs designed to help then avoid an unplanned pregnancy. These programs are designed to help teens build health skills and understand how to access supportive adults in the community before they become sexually active. Sixty percent of program participants have been African American.
In addition, the Gaston County Health Department - which provides care to a high proportion of African American clients - leads the state in helping family planning clients access the most effective methods like IUDs and Implants. In early 2012, the GCHD opened the Teen Wellness Center, a medical facility designed by and for teens. Practitioners are trained to provide welcoming, nonjudgmental, high-quality care to adolescents. One in five Teen Wellness Center clients who comes in for birth control leaves with one of the most effective methods, compared with roughly 5% statewide.