Teen Pregnancy Rate Among Hispanics in Arizona Remains High; Experts Cite Lack of Spanish-Language Education Programs
More Hispanic teenagers in Arizona became pregnant in 2005 than all other racial and ethnic groups combined, according to a new report from the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Republic reports. Despite a recent decline in teen pregnancy rates, Hispanic teens in Arizona are three-and-a-half times more likely than white teens to become pregnant. Further, Hispanic teens in Arizona are about one-third more likely to become pregnant than Hispanic teens nationwide. In addition, while the black teen pregnancy rate remains high and the rate among American Indians has increased slightly, both groups' rates remain lower than Hispanics, the Republic reports. The pregnancy rate among Hispanic teens gives Arizona one of the highest overall teen pregnancy rates in the nation. Eighty-two percent of teen births in Arizona in 2005 were covered by Medicaid, up from 71% a decade earlier, according to the Republic. Experts attribute the high pregnancy rates in part to Arizona's large immigrant population, poverty, and poor education about sex and birth control. Community groups in the state also lack adequate Spanish-speaking sex education counselors or educators to meet demand. In addition, "in many Hispanic homes, talking about sex and birth control is taboo, especially among immigrants and second-generation families," many of whom who are conservative Catholics and believe that using birth control is a sin, according to the Republic. Sue Gerard, director of the state health department, said more research needs to be done on teen pregnancy, "specifically in the Hispanic community" (Wingett/Crawford, Arizona Republic, 2/6).