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Researchers examine barriers to contraception

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Condoms are the only form of contraception that protects against sexually transmitted diseases, which is why people who do not use them should regularly use STD testing services. While condoms can be purchased at most drug and convenience stores, some people may not have the money to purchase them, or any other form of contraceptive, for that matter. Because of this, many health clinics provide condoms for free.

Recently, researchers from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services and the RCHN Community Health Foundation set out to to determine what role health clinics play in family planning. According to the findings, while these places offer some forms of contraception, there is room for improvement.

Time for change
The researchers found that 87 percent of clinics they examined offered a basic family care package, consisting of birth control pills and one other form of contraceptive, such as implants, IUDs or condoms. However, since condoms are the only way to prevent STDs while engaging in sexual contact, all packages should include them. Furthermore, the scientists found that the range and quality of services offered by health clinics varied greatly depending on where they were located, which is a disparity that needs to be addressed.

"Community health centers play a key role in delivering primary care, and family planning services always have been a core primary care service. Strengthening capacity and performance is essential," said Julio Bellber, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation.

Barriers remain
According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, misinformation, insurance problems and insufficient availability all impede an individual's ability to access contraceptives. Furthermore, the Association added that many women who discontinue using birth control pills for one reason or another often do not find another form of contraceptive, resulting in unintended pregnancies as well as a higher risk of STDs.

All of this highlights the need for more ways to access affordable condoms and birth control pills. Furthermore, there is also a need for greater education regarding the importance of STD testing and safer sex practices. Knowledge, combined with more people using protection, will hopefully lead to a reduction of the high STD rate that continues to be a major issue throughout the U.S., particularly among younger individuals. Often, young people may feel uncomfortable purchasing condoms, which is why having a place where they can acquire them for free is so important.

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