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The Reality When it Comes to Reproductive Health

An adolescent boy in Nicaragua takes part in training on sexual and reproductive health.
An adolescent boy in Nicaragua takes part in training on sexual and reproductive health.
May 12, 2014
Plan International USA is working with communities to change some of these astounding numbers.

When it comes to reproductive health around the world, Plan International USA and other organizations are facing an important challenge.

Here is the harsh reality:

Every year 7.3 million girls under 18 give birth, including 2 million girls 14 or younger, who suffer the gravest long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy, including high rates of maternal death and obstetric fistula.

More than 30 percent of girls in developing countries marry before 18 years of age. Child and forced marriage is a harmful practice and a high risk factor for early pregnancy.

Pregnancy and childbirth continue to be the leading cause of death for adolescent girls aged 15-19. Among these, a significant number are due to unsafe abortions. Almost half of all deaths from complications due to unsafe abortion are amongst women and girls under 25.

80 percent of married adolescent girls who want to delay or space pregnancies are not using any form of modern contraception, and 90 percent of births to adolescents 15-19 occur within marriage.

Between 2005 and 2012, HIV-related deaths among adolescents increased by 50 percent, while the global number of HIV-related deaths fell by 30 percent. Condom use at first sex is low for adolescent girls and boys.

Young women aged 15-24 are three times more likely to contract HIV as young men. Married girls experience some of the highest rates of HIV prevalence of any group in the world. In the majority of countries in Southern Africa, 20 percent of pregnant women have tested positive for HIV, with figures reaching almost 40 percent in Botswana and Swaziland.

Sexual abuse among children worldwide ranges from eight to 31 percent for girls and three to 17 percent for boys, and nine percent of girls and three percent of boys had experienced forced sexual intercourse, according to a review of 55 studies in 24 countries.

It is estimated that between eight and 25 percent of girls in some sub-Saharan African countries drop out of school because they are pregnant. Girls and young women who become pregnant are less likely to finish their education, which increases their risk of living in poverty.

Stigma, discrimination, and attacks on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are prevalent, and on the rise, in many countries. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, including adolescents, are subject to discriminatory laws.

Together, we can change this reality. Learn about Plan's reproductive health programs.

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