MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (06/11/2024) —  Pregnancy and birth rates among Minnesota youth continue their downward trajectory following a slight pandemic jump, according to the annual Minnesota Adolescent Sexual Health Report from the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Healthy Youth Development - Prevention Research Center (HYD-PRC). Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among youth, while still prevalent, are essentially unchanged from last year.

“COVID-19 appears to have had a significant, but short-term, impact on the sexual health of Minnesota youth,” said Jill Farris, MPH, Director of Adolescent Sexual Health Training and Education for the HYD-PRC. “The uptick we saw last year is likely due to a lack of access to
condoms, contraception and abortion services during the height of the pandemic. As we emerged from the pandemic and access to services improved, rates continued to decline. This underscores the importance of ensuring access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare and education to all young people.”

This year’s report found:

Pregnancy and birth rates have reached historic lows for 15-to-19-year-olds and continue to decrease even after increasing in 2021, which researchers attribute to the pandemic. 
Despite historically low pregnancy and birth rates, these rates are disproportionately high for young people in greater Minnesota and for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) youth.
Minnesota youth still account for large numbers of STIs — 25% of chlamydia and 15% of gonorrhea cases statewide — regardless of geographic location.

This year’s report also looked at experiences of trading sex and sexual exploitation among Minnesota youth. Via the 2022 Minnesota Student Survey, 4,600 students in grades 9-11, representing all gender identities and orientations, acknowledged they had traded sex for something of value. Students who identified as transgender/gender diverse or questioning/unsure reported at three times the rate of their cisgender classmates.  

”Sexual exploitation is a public health issue affecting individuals, communities and populations,” said Farris. “Addressing these disparities requires a multifaceted approach that provides support and resources for at-risk youth and works to dismantle the systemic factors that perpetuate inequality and marginalization.”

Additionally, social determinants of health (demographic differences, racial/ethnic disparities, and gender identity) and access to care continue to play a key role in young people’s ability to access high-quality sexual health information.

“We must continue to use an intersectional lens when addressing adolescent sexual health — one that looks beyond white-centered, cisgender, heteronormative perspectives,” said Farris. “All young people need and deserve high-quality sexual health information and families, caregivers and clinicians need to take an active role in that education.”

The report aims to help Minnesotans understand the current landscape of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and how it is tied more broadly to healthy youth development. Interactive, individualized reports for each of Minnesota’s 87 counties are also provided.

To learn more about the Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research Center, visit this website


About the University of Minnesota Medical School
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