The Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents and Young Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nebiyu (left) and Endegena (right) lead an Education for Health and Well-being session organized by the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (FGAE). FGAE offers sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services across the country, including in five zones of the Oromia Region. It has a network of 46 comprehensive SRH service delivery clinics and employs a youth-centered approach, which involves implementing services where adolescents and young people can easily access them, rather than directing clients to particular facilities.

The COVID-19 public health crisis is having rapid and profound effects on how people around the world are living their lives. Adolescents and young adults (AYA) aged 12-24 in the United States are at low risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19 compared with other age-groups. However, the disease may affect other aspects of their physical, mental and social health. Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) touches upon all of these domains, and involves intimate relationships, sexual activity, contraceptive use and abortion care. Evidence of the SRH impacts of previous large-scale disruptions in the United States, including natural disasters and the 2008 recession, suggests that the current pandemic will have serious and sustained effects on young people. AYA will experience the current pandemic in ways that reflect their unique developmental and cohort situations. In this viewpoint, potential immediate and longer term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SRH needs and behaviors of AYA are reviewed.