BC Youth Sexual Health Atlas

(2006 – 2011; CIHR)

Principal Investigator: Judith Soon

Co-Investigator(s): Neil Hanlon; Mary-Ellen Kelm; Mieke Koehoorn; Marcus Lem; Gina Ogilvie; Aleck Ostry; Mark Rosenberg; Elizabeth Saewyc; Jean Shoveller

The BC Youth Sexual Health Atlas uses existing data from a number of health databases to conduct a series of multi-level analyses regarding the sexual health of youth (aged 15 to 24 years) living in British Columbia. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, we prepared detailed socio-epidemiological profiles and maps of the sexual health outcomes of youth living in BC. Key health outcome indicators include sexually transmitted infections (STIs), early-age childbearing, and use of contraceptives. The maps help illustrate how physical, social and structural mechanisms (e.g., gender, socioeconomic status, and geographic location) can affect young people’s sexual health outcomes. This atlas illustrates regional variations in youth sexual health outcomes, adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics such as gender and socioeconomic status.

The BC Youth Sexual Health Atlas provides a means by which researchers, policy makers, and service providers can conduct relative comparisons between these regions, and promote discussion about how social and structural inequities among youth sexual health outcomes can be reduced. While researchers have successfully used GIS mapping techniques to create other atlases that illustrate a variety of health and morbidity outcomes for BC residents, the BC Youth Sexual Health Atlas is the first to characterize youth’s sexual health outcomes and related care utilization patterns (e.g., STI rates, pregnancy rates, physician visits, use of contraceptives) province-wide. The publication of the BC Youth Sexual Health Atlas provides new knowledge and understandings that can be used to help reduce the sexual health disparities of youth living in BC. This atlas is available to researchers, health policy makers, health care and social service providers, as well as the general public.