Wales

£450,000 for teenage pregnancy hot-spots in Wales

Teenage pregnancy
Image caption Vulnerable youngsters are to be offered advice on preventing teenage pregnancy

Vulnerable youngsters in areas of Wales with the highest rates of teenage pregnancies are to be offered extra sexual and relationship advice.

The assembly government has set aside £450,000 to develop the scheme under fresh plans to cut teenage pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections.

Ministers say every £1 spent on contraception saves £10 for the NHS.

But Health Minister Edwina Hart added: "People must take personal responsibility for their actions."

Figures in February showed Merthyr Tydfil has the highest teenage pregnancy rate for 15-17-year-olds in Wales and England.

The data for 2008 showed a rate of 73.5 conceptions per 1,000 girls of that age in the south Wales valley area.

The second highest figure in Wales was another valleys district, Rhondda Cynon Taf, with 59.2.

The teenage pregnancy rate in Wales in 2008 for girls in the age group fell slightly compared to the previous year.

The revised Personal and Social Education Framework aim is to promote open discussions on sexual health and relationships.

Its ambitions include ensuring younger people can continue to access sexual health services as well as information to help parents discuss sexual health with their children.

The deputy chief medical officer for Wales Jane Wilkinson said: "It's important that individuals have the information, knowledge and skills to make informed choices.

"Teenage pregnancy is a complex issue that requires an integrated response.

"This plan recognises that we need to provide good quality sex and relationships education for young people, accessible sexual health services, and tackle the wider issues associated with teenage pregnancy such as poverty, excessive alcohol consumption, low educational attainment and lack of aspiration.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said: "Sex and relationship education is an important part of growing up.

"This new action plan recognises how education can help provide young people with the knowledge and skills to make informed choices."

HIV

Health Minister Edwina Hart, said: "Access to sexual health services has improved in recent years, but we must go further.

"This plan outlines what I expect health boards to develop - in association with colleagues in local authorities - to improve services and reduce the incidence of STIs and teenage pregnancies.

"Ultimately though, as with many health-related issues, we can provide information, education and services, but people must take personal responsibility for their actions."

The plans also include tackling the stigma associated with HIV.

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