Minnesota: Opening an Intimate World
June 23, 2005
Plain Talk/Hablando Claro is a program in St. Paul designed to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy among Hispanics. The model was brought to the city's West Side two years ago after an analysis of 2000 census data showed the pregnancy rate for Minnesota's Hispanic teens rose from 78.9 births per 1,000 in 1989 to 137.5 per 1,000 in 1999, making Minnesota's Hispanic/Latino birth rate the second-highest in the country.
Run by Neighborhood House, a St. Paul nonprofit, Plain Talk/Hablando Claro provides sex-education seminars for poor, under-educated Hispanic adults who know little about sex, reproduction or STDs. Kara Beckman, Neighborhood House's health program manager, said the program is designed to help adults learn about sexual health issues to make it easier for parents to talk to their children. Workers fan out into the community and recruit adults to attend "home health" parties where small groups can discuss sex education and communication issues.
Many participants in the seminars face religious and cultural barriers to talking about sex. Although Plain Talk/Hablando Claro is aimed at adults, the program has hired three teenagers to recruit young people to attend the presentations. Children noted that they sometimes find it hard to talk to their parents about sexual issues.
"It is difficult because of the culture," noted Maria Elena Escoto, a Neighborhood House volunteer who works for the program. "There are a lot of taboos, a lot of things we don't talk about."
The teen pregnancy rate for Minnesota's Latinos has dropped somewhat since 1999, but it remains about five times the rate of the city's white teens and is the highest rate among minority girls.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
06.19.2005; Heron Marquez Estrada
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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.