Give 100 youth access to reproductive healthcare

by Community Clinic Inc.
Vetted

For this report, Elsa Canales, CCI-TAYA Outreach Coordinator, shares her experience of partnering with a local youth center to give presentations on reproductive health to 16-24 year old students in a GED prep and job training program. She gave presentations once a week for six weeks to two cohorts of students, allowing her to build trust and have open conversations.

Thank you for investing in educating these kids--it is so needed. There was a lot of important information they didn’t know about staying healthy. For example, they were shocked when they found out that STI’s can be transferred skin-to-skin and through oral sex. One student who was there for the STI series had been chlamydia positive in the past, but she wasn’t sure how it was spread. After the series, she wanted to get tested, and she made an appointment at CCI-TAYA. (It’s been encouraging to hear from our providers that the majority of their patients found out about CCI-TAYA through a presentation!)

I also talked with the students about healthy relationships, and we spent a lot of time talking about abuse and consent. The students associated abuse with violence, not with behavior like constant texting. But as we talked, they started to see the ways that a partner always asking where you are, always needing to know who you’re with can be manipulative and controlling. Consent was also a big topic. Most of the students didn’t think consent within a relationship was necessary; they thought that the fact that they were in a relationship made it ok to have sex with that person. We talked about the fact that a ‘yes’ is needed every time.  

Healthy relationships aren’t just a side topic; they are essential for reproductive health. In a healthy relationship, both partners respect themselves (and each other) enough to be able to know what their physical limits are, and respect that for the other person. A lot the students I talk to feel like they need to prove their love for their partner by doing physical things like having sex even if they aren't comfortable with it. I remind them that they don’t have to do anything. If they don't want to do more than hold hands, they should stick to that and their partner should respect that.

If a healthy couple does decide that they are comfortable and ready to have sex, they talk about their health and history, what they want a physical relationship to look like, what protection they will use, even get tested together. Healthy relationships are a foundation for people to have control over their bodies and their health--what reproductive health is all about.

We are looking forward to continuing to work with students like these through this partnership in the fall and beyond. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we can make that happen! Thank you for all you do to change lives for young people in our community.

 

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis show staggering numbers in the U.S., with cases of all three diseases on the rise for the first time since 2006. Reproductive health services are needed now more than ever. 

The rate of STIs is disproportionately high among young people. Young adults ages 15-24 make up less than one third of the sexually active population, but they account for nearly two thirds of all cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea reported in 2014. Exacerbating the issue, young people don’t often get the medical help or information they need. A Kaiser Permanente survey revealed that only one third of teen girls had talked to a doctor about STIs in the past three years. The consequences are dire. Undiagnosed STIs cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year.

The importance of openness about STIs is one reason that presentations continue to be a central part of CCI-TAYA’s model of caring for young people in our community. Presentations help us make a difference in the health of young people like Jon.

Jon was in high school when he began to have skin irritation in his genital area. As weeks went by and the discomfort only got worse, his worry grew. He knew that he should see a doctor, but he shared his doctor with the rest of his family. And he’d rather deal with the pain than have them find out that he had a sexually-transmitted infection.

Soon after, CCI-TAYA’s Molly Love gave a presentation at Jon’s high school. As she talked about STIs and their consequences, Jon tried to keep his face from displaying the thoughts and fears whirling through his mind. When the presentation ended, and students filed out of the classroom, Jon knew it was now or never. He took his time packing up his things, and walked up to Molly. After introducing himself and stalling with comments about the presentation, he said it: “I think I might have herpes.”

Thanks to supporters like you, Jon received affordable, confidential treatment at CCI-TAYA. Though we encourage patients to be open with families as much as possible, we know that for young people like Jon, the treatment they need will not happen unless it is private and confidential.

We want you to know that your support of CCI-TAYA makes all the difference in the lives of young people like Jon. With the support of generous people like you, in 2015 CCI-TAYA provided:

  • 2,997 STI screenings
  • 801 breast and cervical cancer screenings
  • 3,930 family planning visits.
  • Education and outreach to over 7,000 young people and parents

Just $25 provides confidential STI testing for a youth who can’t afford it. For this STD Awareness Monthtake action to stop the spread of STIs. 

I don’t think my daughter really needs the HPV vaccine. She’s only 12 years old, so she’s not having sex—she shouldn’t have to worry about getting HPV for a long time. And the longer I can wait to talk about things like that with her, the better. Besides, we’re still working on getting health insurance. I don’t know how an expensive vaccine could fit into our budget right now. – CCI-TAYA parent presentation attendee

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. Thankfully, there’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to cervical cancer. The pap smear has reduced cervical cancer deaths dramatically, and because of the HPV vaccine, many consider cervical cancer a preventable disease. However, improvements in detecting and treating cervical cancer aren’t reaching everyone equally. One in three girls age 13-17 has received a full HPV vaccine. But among girls in this age group who don’t have insurance, only one in seven have been vaccinated.

At CCI-TAYA, educating families about the importance of the HPV vaccine is a major part of preventing cervical cancer in our community. Educators receive comments like the one above all the time. Many parents are hesitant to give their children the vaccine because they associate it with promiscuous sexual activity. But in reality, it is important for everyone who plans to be sexually active, even if it's years down the road, to get the HPV vaccine. It is the only vaccine we have that can actually prevent cancer.

We explain to parents that having their child get the vaccine is like having them wear a helmet when they ride their bike. The helmet doesn’t mean the child will fall, but it protects them if they do. Helping parents see that the HPV vaccine can actually prevent cervical cancer and save their child’s life makes all the difference.

We also inform parents that the HPV vaccine is important for everyone—girls and boys—to get at age 11 or 12. The vaccine protects them from genital warts and the various types of genital or oral cancers linked to HPV, and the HPV vaccine is most effective when children get the full vaccine before they are sexually active.

For youth who don’t have insurance or can’t afford services, generous people like you enable us to provide affordable screenings and HPV vaccines. Just $50 provides a potentially lifesaving cervical cancer screening to a young woman who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford one. Thank you for choosing to invest in healthy lives for young men and women in our community. 

Patty discusses treatment options with a patient
Patty discusses treatment options with a patient

Teresa* walked into Patty’s office, brow furrowed, lips pressed together. Even as she sat down, she couldn’t keep still, her hand pushing her hair back, her knee bobbing up and down, her fingers playing with the seam of her sleeve. Teresa had come to CCI-TAYA for a routine well woman exam. Only 24 years old, she hadn’t expected anything abnormal, but during the clinical breast exam, the nurse found a lump. Teresa had tried to listen as the nurse calmly gave directions, and she’d tried to believe that the lump was most likely harmless, but the news was like a black hole, sucking away all thoughts but cancer.

As CCI-TAYA’s referral specialist, Patty Parra’s job is to connect patients with the follow-up services they need. But for many of her patients, especially patients with difficult news like Teresa’s, Patty is a counselor, making it her first priority is to listen well, and offer emotional support to calm and comfort her patients as well as she can. As Patty listened to her concerns, Teresa felt the knot in her stomach begin to loosen. Patty tells the rest of the story:

“When Teresa was more relaxed, we were able to make an appointment with a nearby radiology department. To everyone’s dismay, Teresa’s ultrasound report came back ‘suspicious’ and in need of a biopsy. Our team at CCI-TAYA informed her and did a great job at describing the procedure, stressing its importance despite her young age and, once again, acting as a support system for her. We were later able to give the patient the good news that her biopsy results had come back as benign and she only needed to work out a follow up plan in order to ensure stability.

Had our nurse not conducted this exam, the patient might have never been aware of her breast medical needs before they escalated into a more serious medical problem. This is why we stress the importance of being aware of any changes in your breasts along with clinical breast exams during your well woman exam. It is never too early to detect something abnormal on the road to healthy living!”

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. While breast cancer in young women is rare, it tends to be more aggressive and more likely to require chemotherapy, and it is the leading cause of cancer death for women between 20 and 59, according to the Komen Foundation. The American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend that women ages 20-39 have a clinical breast exam every three years.

At CCI-TAYA, we know that it’s hard to want to go to the doctor, especially when it doesn’t feel like anything’s wrong. That’s why we do our best to keep a welcoming, stress-free atmosphere at our clinic. To help a young woman like Teresa stay on top of her health, you can provide a well woman family planning visit, which includes a clinical breast exam, for just $100.

*Pseudonym used to protect patient confidentiality.  

Jenna (R) at a community health fair
Jenna (R) at a community health fair

“It was clear to me that the people working at CCI-TAYA truly believed in the importance of reproductive health education and services.”

“Reproductive health can be a scary topic to talk about, especially when seeking help, however I felt that the way CCI-TAYA provides services, it is done in a way where the person can feel comfortable and safe.”

With Labor Day behind us and the rest of the school year ahead, you might be wishing summer had lasted just a bit longer. We certainly do, as we’ve just said goodbye to our summer interns. Our interns are high school, college, and graduate students, and along with providing valuable support for our operations at CCI-TAYA, they also serve as reproductive health ambassadors, spreading what they learn after their internships have ended. For this report, we talked to past interns to give you an inside look at CCI-TAYA’s important work in our community:

How did you learn about CCI-TAYA? Why did you choose to intern at CCI-TAYA?

Kathleen: I had always been interested in reproductive health, so when it was time to do my field placement [for my university’s social work program], CCI-TAYA was at the top of my list. I was so excited that I had the opportunity to intern at a place that deals with issues and topics that interested me. I was able to learn so much at CCI-TAYA about many different things about reproductive health that I didn’t know about, or knew very little about.

Jenna: I learned about CCI-TAYA in 2013 when I was searching for internship opportunities in the DC metropolitan area. CCI-TAYA was unlike other organizations in the area…I loved how their services were up-to-date and engaging. I saw that CCI-TAYA had a Facebook page with accurate and current information geared towards teens. The majority of their staff is bilingual. It was clear to me that the people working at CCI-TAYA truly believed in the importance of reproductive health education and services.

Why do you think CCI-TAYA’s work is important?

Kathleen: I think CCI-TAYA’s work is important because it is a place women and men can go to for help with reproductive issues.  Reproductive health can be a scary topic to talk about, especially when seeking help, however I felt that the way CCI-TAYA provides services, it is done in a way where the person can feel comfortable and safe. 

Jenna: CCI-TAYA's work is important because it works hard to meet the needs of the community. In order to improve the overall health of our community, it is important that teens and young adults are able to make careful, thoughtful, and informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

Can you tell me about a patient (or situation) for whom CCI-TAYA made an impact?

Kathleen: I feel like CCI-TAYA [made] an impact on all or most patients because I know that at the end of their service they left happy, or with their questions answered.  And when I would see them come back weeks or months later I know that they were happy because they came back; they trusted the service that CCI-TAYA provided.

Jenna:   There were so many patients positively impacted by CCI-TAYA's services. …I loved that CCI-TAYA provided comprehensive counseling to patients who were pregnant and looking for information about their options. There were times where patients had little to no information about their options when they discover they are pregnant. However, with the help of caseworkers and social workers at CCI-TAYA, they would gain more knowledge that allowed them to make a more fully informed decision about their pregnancy.

Would you recommend CCI-TAYA to a friend?

Kathleen: I would definitely recommend CCI-TAYA to friends, and I have done so. I was able to see how things are done in the office, and how much the people working there care for the clients. I know that if a person [goes] there they will be treated with respect and will be heard with whatever reason or situation they may be visiting the office.

Jenna: Absolutely. The staff at CCI-TAYA care about their patients and deliver compassionate, culturally-responsive, and high quality reproductive health services.

Jenna (front L) & Kathleen (back M) with TAYA team
Jenna (front L) & Kathleen (back M) with TAYA team
 

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Organization Information

Community Clinic Inc.

Location: Silver Spring, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.cciweb.org
Project Leader:
Molly Love
Silver Spring, MD United States
$8,007 raised of $10,000 goal
 
135 donations
$1,993 to go
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