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Many Black Girls Unaware Of Emergency Contraception Option

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Many black girls living in urban areas appear to lack general knowledge about emergency contraception, according to a study published in the August issue of Pediatrics, Reuters Health reports. For the study, Cynthia Mollen of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and colleagues conducted one-hour interviews with 30 English-speaking black girls ages 15 to 19 who had sought treatment in an emergency department. Sixteen of the girls reported being sexually active, five of whom previously had been pregnant. Fourteen girls said they were not sexually active.

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Researchers found that 94% of the sexually active girls had heard of EC but that 40% of them were unable to answer questions about how EC works. Half of the girls who were not sexually active had heard of EC. Four of the girls who had heard of EC knew how to use or obtain it, the study found. In addition, seven girls -- five of whom were sexually active -- knew that EC is available over the counter for women ages 18 and older.

Many of the girls believed that health care providers would call their parents if they requested EC and said that people who use EC should be embarrassed. In addition, many girls said they were concerned about possible side effects, including those not associated with EC, if they took the drug. Mollen said the study provides a "framework for future interventions aimed at increasing" use of EC among adolescent minority girls (Hendry, Reuters Health, 8/11).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.