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National News

New York: Concern Growing over Teen Health

July 25, 2002

Lack of funds and fear of a loss of privacy are the two biggest factors that keep New York teenagers from getting the health care they need, according to a new study. The report, by the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York, was released as federal health officials show renewed concern about adolescent health.

Teenagers are at a higher risk of acquiring STDs, according to the CDC. Earlier this month at the 14th International AIDS Conference, CDC officials said half of the 40,000 new HIV infections in the United States occur in people younger than 25.

Researchers interviewed 104 health care providers serving teenagers at clinics and community health centers in New York. A focus group of ten Bronx teens also was queried on its experience with health care. The study found the main barriers to care were concerns about privacy and lack of financial means.

Although a state law guarantees adolescents the right to confidential reproductive health services, 20 percent of clinics nonetheless refused to provide treatment for STDs or gynecological examinations without parental consent. Fees in the clinics varied from free to a sliding scale, with a top fee of $60 per visit. "Teenagers are the largest group of uninsured children," said Tara Sher, lead author of the study. "But even those teens with insurance would tell providers they were uninsured because they were scared of their parents finding out why they went to a clinic." The report suggested:

  • Hospitals and clinics prominently display their confidentiality policies and hire "adolescent liaisons" to escort teens to their appointments.
  • The city and state create a citywide adolescent health initiative with a phone line and directory of where teens can get services.

The report also found 82 percent of clinics did not offer on-site mental health or gynecological examinations for adolescents. In New York state, adolescent health advocates are pushing legislation that would allow teens to apply on their own for Medicaid to cover services that they are entitled by law to receive without parental consent.

Back to other CDC news for July 25, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Newsday (New York City)
07.22.02; Margaret Ramirez

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.