By Rena Greifinger, Technical Advisor, PSI and Andrea Mooney, Communications and Knowledge Management Advisor, PSI
Contraception creates stirring conversations all over the world, but particular sensitivities arise when it comes to youth. How can a young woman talk to her health care provider about voluntary contraceptives if prevailing social and religious norms condemn it? How does a healthcare provider reconcile her personal values (which may conflict with giving contraceptives to youth) from her professional values of beneficence, justice and respect?
“Limiting contraceptives to stop youth from having sex is like sitting back to watch rates of unintended pregnancy rise,” said Jeffrey F. Peipert, MD, PhD, (Vice Chair of Clinical Research and Principle Investigator of the Contraceptive CHOICE Project the at Washington University School of Medicine) at a symposium on youth and LARCs in Washington, DC last week.
How voluntary contraceptives — especially long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) — can improve the health and wellbeing of young women is a topic that presents tough questions. With the support of USAID, PSI, FHI360, MSI, Pathfinder International and its Evidence2Action Project, held a symposium to tackle those questions, and chart a course forward to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people.
The symposium gathered over 100 experts from around the world — including program advisors and implementers, researchers, young people, health providers, donors and advocates. With opening remarks by Ellen Starbird, Director of the USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health and powerful presentations from Jeff Peipert, Candace Lew and young Liberian radio host Massa Harris, participants discussed and debated safety, satisfaction, and efficacy of LARCs for youth, responding to the following questions:
- How might we support healthcare providers in becoming voluntary LARC champions for youth amidst the various barriers they face?
- What approaches effectively influence social and community norms around voluntary LARC use by youth, and what mechanisms can be used to track the operationalization of policies?
- How do we ensure contraceptive choice for youth when also trying to increase awareness of and interest in voluntary LARCs?
- How do we create communication interventions that reach youth and their key influencers (such as parents) and transform harmful norms such as those that tie LARC use to promiscuity in unmarried girls?
This summer, PSI and partners will address each of these tough questions through a dynamic blog series. We will unveil each question, present the engaging discourse that followed, and ultimately publish a landmark consensus statement and key recommendations for the public health community to drive forward.
Want to learn more about LARCs and Youth? Become a member of the LARC Community of Practice.
Photo: Massa Harris, host of PSI Liberia’s “Let’s Talk About Sex” radio show, interviews Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of the Contraceptive CHOICE Project.
Photo Credit: Regina Moore