2021 Health of Women and Girls in Louisiana: Sexual Health

As a reproductive health advocate, are excited to share with you a new report on the Health of Women and Girls in Louisiana: Sexual Health resulting from a collaboration between Tulane University’s Mary Amelia Center for Women’s Health Equity Research (MAC), Newcomb Institute, and the Institute for Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES). It is the latest in our series on the health of women and girls in Louisiana (2013 report on The Health of Women and Girls in Greater New Orleans and the 2017 report on The Health of Women and Girls in Louisiana: Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes). Given the magnitude and persistence of poor sexual health outcomes throughout Louisiana, and racial disparities in these outcomes, this 2021 report focuses on indicators of sexual health, with a special focus on sexually transmitted infections (STIs).    The report explores why high rates of STIs exist and racial disparities persist despite successful efforts to expand Medicaid health insurance coverage and more spending on healthcare than any other country in the world. Section I gives an overview of factors related to sexual health and STIs, such as sex education, teen sexual health, access to quality sexual and reproductive health services (e.g., contraception and abortions), sexual violence, and LGBTQ+ health. Sections II and III find that features of the communities in which women are born, grow, live, work, and play shape their opportunities to live healthy lives.   Overall, this report highlights several opportunities to improve sexual health and advance health equity. Recommendations include policies that increase investment in sexual and reproductive healthcare services, improve equitable socioeconomic opportunities, reduce violence, honor LGBTQ+ sexual and reproductive health needs, and follow the tenets of reproductive justice, among others. Given that COVID-19 has likely exacerbated many of the issues identified in the report, such policy changes are especially crucial to upholding sexual and reproductive health as fundamental human rights necessary to ensuring all people in Louisiana have an equal chance of living healthy and safe lives.