Access to Care
One of the barriers to adolescents seeking sexual and reproductive health services is access to care and understanding the laws around consent and confidentiality. Below are resources that may be helpful in accessing and navigating the provisions around access to care.
Consent for Health Services and Confidentiality and the Law
When caring for minors, it is important to understand applicable state laws that affect whether/when minors can consent to testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Some states require that the parents are notified if the minor has requested to be tested or is receiving treatment.
- Confidentiality Protections for Adolescents and Young Adults in the Health care Billing and Insurance Claims Process: The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have developed a joint policy that provides guidance on protecting confidentiality.
- The Guttmacher Institute: Provides an overview of state laws regarding consent for minors and tracks state laws on minors' access to sexually transmitted infection (STI) services.
- National Adolescent and Young Adult Health Information Center: They have developed a Compendium of State and Local Strategies to improve access to health insurance and the quality of preventative visits among adolescents and young adults.
Physicians as Advocates
Primary care providers are in an ideal position to advocate for the sexual and reproductive health care needs of adolescents and young adults because they are the ones who are for them. From access to care, to the provision of confidential health care services, there are opportunities at the state and federal levels for physicians to get involved with to ensure that adolescents and young adults receive the care they need to reach optimal health and development.
Opportunities for Physician Involvement
Physicians as Advocates (Physicians for Reproductive Health): This module provides reasons for physician advocacy for adolescent reproductive health, describes how to effectively use storytelling as a tool for advocacy, and discusses ways physicians can influence public policy.
Follow what the AAP is doing around Federal Advocacy.
State and Local Advocacy
Getting involved in your state’s AAP chapter is a great way to be an advocate at the local level. Each chapter has its own website where you can find out the issues they’re interested in and working on, as well as have a voice in issues that are important to you. Contact your chapter president or executive director to find out what’s going on and how you can be supportive and contribute your knowledge and expertise towards advocating for child health issues.
American Academy of Pediatrics