Page last updated at 05:59 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 06:59 UK

Plan to reduce teen pregnancies

Teenage pregnancy
Wales has a higher teenage pregnancy rate than England

Proposals to tackle teenage pregnancies in Wales have been unveiled with plans for better sex education to be taught.

The assembly government's plan also aims to cut the rates of sexually transmitted infections and highlight the dangers of unprotected sex.

A new health advisory board would be created along with better sex education guidance for schools.

The proposals, welcomed by sexual health organisations, now go out for consultation for 16 weeks.

Recent figures showed teenage pregnancy figures were increasing in Wales and remained higher than in England.

Studies have also shown Wales has a higher proportion of 15-year-olds who engage in sex than most other countries.

And a 2007 Estyn report said only a minority of schools in Wales taught sex education to a high standard.

Pregnancy rates per 1,000 girls aged 13 to 15 in Wales
2002 - 8.4
2003 - 8.1
2004 - 7.5
2005 - 7.9
2006 - 8.6
2007 - 8.5

Launching the draft working paper Sexual Health and Wellbeing for Wales 2009-14, Health Minister Edwina Hart said the assembly government was committed to reducing the rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

"A key component of this new document is the importance of educating people of the need for a greater awareness of good sexual health and the dangers associated with unprotected sex," she said.

Rates for pregnancy in teenagers up to 16 years old dipped to 7.5 per 1,000 girls aged 13 to 15, five years ago.

But by 2007 the rate had risen once more to 8.5.

Better training

Features of the plan include the creation of a national sexual health advisory board, with representatives of young people and people living with HIV.

Sex education guidelines for schools would be updated with better training for teachers.

A campaign would also be launched targeting further and higher education students to raise awareness of binge-drinking and unprotected sex.

The 16-week consultation period finishes on 5 October, 2009.

Sexual health organisation the Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru, which has service centres in Cardiff, Swansea and Powys, said the plans are a "pragmatic response to one of the fastest growing serious health issues in Wales".

Paul Ward, deputy chief executive, said: "Fully implementing this report gives Wales the opportunity to really lead the UK in tackling HIV and sexual ill health.

"An effective HIV testing campaign could save the Welsh Assembly over a quarter of a million pounds for every infection prevented so investment in this area makes sound economic sense.

"Good progress has been made in many areas but there's still more to be done to improve detection of chlamydia and access to long-acting reversible contraception."

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