Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW) recently provided a reproductive health class to Imperial Valley, Calif., residents. The class prompted an El Centro mother to schedule a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination appointment for her teenage son, since HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Elizabeth Valdez, the Planned Parenthood community outreach worker who conducted the class at a bus stop, stated that the intent was to get residents to discuss intimate matters. She emphasized, speaking in Spanish, “Especially in our culture, we don’t talk about these topics.” The mother added that if others spoke to her son, perhaps he would discuss these matters more openly.
Although PPPSW has 19 centers in San Diego and Riverside counties, none exist in Imperial Valley; however, the organization expects to open an office in the next six months. For the time being, representatives continue with their collaborative work and grassroots outreach efforts. In addition to bus patrons, PPPSW has held classes for soccer moms, farmworkers, juvenile wards, and unemployed males. So far, Planned Parenthood has reached an estimated 15,000 local residents through its workshops, classes, and outreach efforts, noted Juanita Salas, PPPSW community engagement manager in Imperial County.
The classes also emphasize abstinence as being one of the most effective ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of STIs. The county reported a total of 28,580 new STI cases among 15- to 24-year-olds in 2005. In 2010, Imperial County ranked fourth in the state for teenage births, Salas said. A 2012 report by the state Public Health Institute estimated that the annual taxpayer cost associated with teen pregnancy is approximately $8.4 million locally.
Currently, Planned Parenthood partners with Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo to offer health services such as breast exams, cancer screenings, STD testing, and birth control options. The organization collaborates with the county probation department to work with at-risk youth in juvenile hall. Nationwide, abortion services comprise just 5 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, explained Jennifer Coburn, director of communications and marketing for PPPSW. The organization also estimated that one in five women will use Planned Parenthood services during the course of their lifetime. “We’ve earned the public’s trust,” Coburn stated. However, local resident Pablo Flores, a pro-life advocate, has expressed dissent over Planned Parenthood’s abortion services.
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