Latinas Face: Sexual And Reproductive Health Issues

Poor Sexual and Reproductive Health

Teen Pregnancy, Contraceptives, Abortion, and Consequences

In the United States, teen pregnancy rates have been steadily declining, however, teen pregnancy rate for Latinas has not made declined as much as it has for teens of other races in the last decade. In fact, Latinas have highest teen birth rate. In 2016, their birth rate was 31. 9 births per 1, 000 female teens, in comparison to the national average of 20. 3 per 1000. Sadly, forty-one percent of them will drop out of high school due to pregnancy, and as a result, will live in poverty and will more likely be a single parent. In general, the falling pregnancy rate is a result of more teens using contraception. Still, many fail to use the most effective methods or use them incorrectly or inconsistently, resulting in ill-timed or unwanted pregnancies. Only half of Latinas use any contraception, compared to white females of the same age. This becomes troubling since forty-one percent of Latinas aged fifteen to nineteen report they have had sexual intercourse at least once. The truth is that young Latinas continue to face barriers in continuously accessing contraception that is affordable and available to them. As a result, unintended pregnancy among them is twice the rate of their white peers.

Nevertheless, even informed teenagers have trouble accessing birth control. Latinas have cited prescription contraceptive cost as preventing its consistent use. Some don’t know where to find contraception, are afraid to ask parents for help in accessing contraception, others do not know of its existence. Being underage, Latina teenagers also face barriers imposed by state legislatures. Half of states nationwide allow minors to receive contraceptive services under limited circumstances only. Unfortunately, these cases lead Latina teens to seek abortion care, with a quarter of abortion patients being Latinas, twelve percent being between the ages of fifteen and nineteen.

STDs Epidemic and Other Reproductive Health Concerns Latinas Face

Latinas are exposed to several other reproductive health challenges that are life-threatening. Recently, HIV/AIDS has spread rapidly among Latina in the United States. In 2013, the rate of HIV infection among Latina teens and women was triple that of their white counterparts. Latinas also account for sixteen percent of new AIDS cases among all racial and ethnic groups of women. The AIDS case rate is six times higher among Latinas than for white women. Additionally, Latina teens have a higher infection rate of syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia than white women.

Another health concern is the high rate of deadly cancers among Latinas. Cervical cancer remains a treatable and preventable disease, yet in 2015, 2, 000 Latinas in the United States were expected to receive cervical cancer diagnosis and 200 were expected to die from it. Cervical cancer particularly affects Mexican and Puerto Rican Latinas double the rate of white women. When detected early, the chance of treating cervical cancer is very high, but Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, largely because of the lack of education they receive about the importance of a pap smear. Their access to pap smears, among other important health screenings, is limited due to their lack of insurance, low-income, age and language barriers.

Poverty as a Result

From High-School Dropout to Low Wage Jobs to Poverty

According to the National Women’s Law Center, ninety-eight percent of Latinas say that they want to graduate from college and a third admit that is unlikely. In fact, an appalling forty-one percent of Latina girls will not graduate from high school. So much is to blame for these statistics like, lack of English fluency, discrimination, ethnic stereotyping, limited parental involvement, low income status, and poor school preparation. These numbers become worse due to their high teen pregnancy rate. In 2010, the National Conference on State Legislatures found that thirty-six percent of Latinas who dropped out of high school did so as a result of pregnancy. This was six percent higher than all female dropouts combined. After dropping out and pregnancy, most of the barriers holding Latinas back are poverty related.

With no education, the Latina teenager will be faced with lack of opportunity in the job market. She will make fifty-six cents for every dollar earned by her white, male counterpart, putting her at the bottom of her gender’s pay gap. In 2011, sixteen percent of Latinas compared to eight percent of white women, worked full-time but earned wages that put them below the poverty line. Further, pregnancy Latinas who drop out of high are more likely to be a single parent. Fifty-three percent of all births to Latinas in 2013 were to single women. For single-parent Latinas minimal education combined with low wages results in slim prospects of breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Without early intervention, it is more than likely the cycle will be never-ending. All single-mothers, including Latinas, have two or more full-time jobs, working for money and raising their children. With no money or time, they cannot hire on help for childcare. Generally, single Latina moms with no education and low wage jobs, do not receive child support, or not enough for expenses. Without parental involvement in education, one on on parent attention, and low income, it is likely that Latinas’ children will follow their mother’s economic destiny.

Latinas and Health

Latinas have the highest uninsured rates of any group in the United States, since they tend to be disproportionately poor and copays are unaffordable for them. The Guttmacher Institute found that fifty percent of young women, including Latinas, said there had been a time when the cost for a contraceptive prescription prevented them from using it consistently. Poor women are four times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those who have more resources, due in large part to lack of access to reproductive care and contraception.

15 July 2020
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