Young people, especially those who are sexually active, need access to a variety of reproductive health and HIV services. Frequently, youth seek services only when there is an acute illness or problem, such as a symptomatic sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy.
Youth often avoid using HIV prevention and other services because of inconvenient hours or location, unfriendly staff, and lack of privacy and confidentiality. Since many young people avoid using these services, special efforts must be made to attract, serve, and retain young clients. When youth do go to health sites, efforts need to be made to meet both the pregnancy and STI/HIV prevention needs of youth, even where clinical services are often separate. Also, youth have said they like to receive services when possible at pharmacies, and some programs are working with pharmacies to serve youth better.
Researchers have found that youth-friendly services generally share the following traits:
- Providers are trained to communicate with youth in a respectful and nonjudgmental manner
- The facility has policies of confidentiality and privacy for youth
- The facility has convenient hours and location for young people, as well as a nonthreatening environment
- The fees are affordable
- Youth participate in developing policies and implementing services through an advisory board, as peer educators, and in other roles