Introduction: The United States (U.S.) has higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and adolescent pregnancy than most other industrialized countries. Furthermore, health disparities persist among racial and ethnic minority adolescents (e.g., African American and Latinx) and in counties located along the U.S.–Mexico border region—they demonstrate the highest rates of STIs and unintended pregnancy among adolescents.
Methods: Qualitative data were collected as part of formative research for the development of a mobile app that provides gender-inclusive sexual education to adolescents living in the U.S.—Mexico border region. From August 2019 to March 2020, the study team conducted 11 in-depth interviews with healthcare providers and three focus groups with cisgender, heterosexual, and SGM adolescents ages 15–18 (n = 20).
Results: Providers and adolescents reported similar barriers to accessing SRH in this region such as transportation, lack of insurance and cost of services or accessing services without their parent’s knowledge. However, providers shared that some adolescents in this region face extreme poverty, family separation (i.e., parent has been deported), have a mixed family legal status or are binational and have to travel every day from Mexico to the U.S. for school. These challenges further limit their ability to access SRH.
Conclusions: Adolescents in the U.S.-Mexico border region face unique economic and social challenges that further limit their access to SRH care, making them uniquely vulnerable to STIs and unintended pregnancy. The prototype of the app was developed based on the needs expressed by providers and adolescents, including providing comprehensive Sex Ed and mapping of free comprehensive and confidential SRH services available in the region and is being pilot tested. Our findings provide further evidence for the need for interventions and service delivery, programs tailored for residents in the border region.
- Access to sexual and reproductive health
- Adolescent health
- LGBTQIA +
- Sexual and reproductive health
- U.S.-Mexico border region