Despite compelling data that lesbian and bisexual women are at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), programs tailored to the unique needs of adolescent lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) women continue to be nonexistent. Perhaps not surprisingly, LGB women’s perceptions of HIV/STI and pregnancy risk is low, even though they report higher rates of sexual behaviors that increase their risk for STIs as compared to non-LGB women. For example, data from Dr. Michelle Ybarra’s national Teen Health and Technology study suggest that 14% of bisexual and 2% of lesbian women 12-18 years of age have had penile-anal sex; 33% of bisexual and 13% of lesbian adolescent women have also had penile-vaginal sex. Compared to 53% of gay male adolescents who use condoms “most of the time,” only 26% of lesbian female adolescents who have had vaginal or anal sex do similarly.
In addition to unprotected vaginal sex, multiple sexual partners and high-risk sexual partners have been noted at greater frequency among lesbian and bisexual adolescents compared to their heterosexual peers. As a result, rates of pregnancy and diagnoses of STIs are higher for LGB adolescent women than heterosexual women. Although this compelling evidence that lesbian and bisexual adolescent women are at risk for teen pregnancy, programs tailored to the unique needs of adolescent LGB women are nonexistent.
To fill this gap, the Center for Innovative Public Health Research (CiPHR) has asked SARAVYC researchers and others to join them in developing and evaluating Girl2Girl, a novel text messaging-based teen pregnancy prevention program designed specifically for LGB women ages 14-18 years. The 10-week text messaging intervention included: 5 weeks of risk-reduction content (e.g., how to access and use different forms of contraception), followed by a booster module delivered 4 weeks later. To capitalize on technology’s reach, participants are recruited online. If Girl2Girl is effective at promoting teen pregnancy prevention behavior, it will begin filling the void of healthy sexuality programs aimed at reducing pregnancy for LGB adolescent women.
Learn more about CiPHR’s similar HIV prevention intervention called Guy2Guy.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michele Ybarra
Co-Investigators: Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, Dr. Margaret Rosario, and Dr. Carol Goodenow
Funded by the U.S. Office of Adolescent Health under the grant “Girl2Girl: Harnessing text messaging to reduce teen pregnancy among LGB girls”, 2015-2020