I previously managed a mobile health program called Teen Xpress. Teen Xpress operated out of a 40-foot medical mobile unit from which we provided free clinical and preventive services to uninsured and medically in need young people in four area high schools and a local shelter.
Because the Florida public school system espouses abstinence only education, we provided primary care services and limited reproductive health services such as pregnancy testing and STI screening, testing, treatment, and prevention education.
Through screening and testing we diagnosed many adolescents with STIs. These are individuals who are discovering their bodies and exploring intimate relationships while lacking the requisite knowledge and skills to help them manage and ensure their reproductive health. By providing free and confidential services at school-based settings, we’re able to overcome the barriers of lack of insurance and transportation and help reduce STI transmission.
I recently diagnosed a 16-year-old girl with Chlamydia infection and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in one school-based site. She had two sexual partners in the school setting who we were able to track for testing and begin treatment. We, however, were unable to distribute condoms or dispense contraceptives. Patients requesting or requiring these services were referred to local partners and left to deal with challenges intrinsic to the referral process. The barriers of cost, scheduling and transportation can be so prohibitive and overwhelming to a young person that we have seen many young women get pregnant in the interim.