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Free morning after pills may increase the number of positive teen STD tests

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Free morning after pills may increase the number of positive teen STD tests   Providing the morning after pill free of charge over-the-counter to teens appears to do little to curb unintended pregnancies and may also contribute to an increase in the number of adolescents who receive positive STD tests, according to a new study from a team of researchers from the UK.

The findings lend credence to the concerns of some parents, who have said that increasing the availability of this form of emergency contraception could encourage irresponsible sexual behavior. The concerns were raised after some public health experts said that providing the medication could curb unintended teenage pregnancy.

In 1999, providing emergency birth control, or the morning after pill, free without a prescription to teens became a major part of the UK's strategy to reduce teen pregnancy. Researchers from the University of Nottingham analyzed data from public health agencies after this point to study the effect of the program.

They found that the rate of new STD infections rose significantly among teenagers in areas that took part in the program. Additionally, unintended pregnancies also increased.

"Our study illustrates how government interventions can sometimes lead to unfortunate unintended consequences," said professor David Paton, who led the study. 

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