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County's text-message service answers teens' questions about sexual health

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By Ramsey Scott

A new system being used by Jeffco Public Health to answer teens’ questions about sexual health via text-message is already proving to be quite popular. 

After being online for only three days, the Go Ask TISH program had already received more than 100 questions about sex and sexual health, said Kelly Conroy, Jeffco’s public health nurse supervisor. 

“We’ve had a great response since it has launched,” Conroy said. “We really wanted to increase our outreach to teens and young adults.”

The free, confidential service, which Public Health had been developing for about six months, operates like this: Teens can text any question about sex or reproductive health to the health department. That question then is sent to the department as an e-mail, which public health nurses respond to, Conroy said. 

Conroy said nurses respond between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and responses usually take a few hours at the most. Since the nurses are answering questions during normal business hours during down time, and the text system is free, the additional cost to the county is minimal, Conroy said. 

“(Texting) is the technology of choice,” Conroy said. “We just want to provide people with medically accurate information from a trusted source.”

Conroy said that while the service has been in place for only a week, questions have ranged from “What happens if I miss a birth-control pill?” to “When can a girl get pregnant on her period?”

During outreach about the program, Conroy said the department didn’t receive any negative feedback from groups concerned about the information that would be provided to teens. 

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. I was able to present the idea to a teen youth advisory group about a year and a half ago. A few adults there came up to me and said they thought it was a great idea,” Conroy said. 

The text service provides the same information that is available to teens at the county’s family planning clinics, including advice on both birth control and abstinence. 

“It’s medically sound advice. It’s more educational. We’re not advising teens and young adults in their behavior,” Conroy said. “We’re just giving them more accurate information for them to make better decisions.”

The service is free to anyone, not just teenagers in the county, Conroy said. To get a question answered, text the word “question” to 720-446-TISH (8474). After you receive a response, you can proceed with your question. 

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.