Masters of Public Health (MPH) students Hannah Britt and Bronwyn Getts are working to make contraceptives more accessible at the University of Indianapolis. As part of MPH 535, a program planning course, Britt and Getts collaborated with Path4You, an organization funded by Indiana University Health, and held an informational event on Nov. 16 to help educate students about contraceptive access.
Path4You’s goal is to ensure that patients in Indiana can receive comprehensive reproductive health care, according to the Path4You website, and Britt and Getts said their project focuses on those ages 18-25 and educating the UIndy community. They focused on this organization and this topic because of their concern surrounding Indiana’s unintended pregnancy rates.
“Our statistics in Indiana are, I believe… 49% of all pregnancies in the state are unintended pregnancies,” Britt said. “That’s not just from the 18 to 25 [range], it’s the whole state. It’s from every age group. 49% of those pregnancies are unintended. And that’s a high number. That’s nearly 50% of our pregnancies that are happening right now are unintended. And our intention with this is to do some primary prevention, where we are giving them access to it.”
According to Britt, Path4You offers all contraceptive options and allows people to answer questions that lead them to the options that are best suited for their birth control needs. Users can then speak with a virtual provider that will provide them with the best options for them and then send the contraceptive to them, ultimately eliminating the access barrier of going to a pharmacy.
“It is fully funded, completely free. And it is for all residents of Indiana. Even if you’re in college, just use your college address, and you’re considered an Indiana resident and you have completely free access to their program,” Britt said. “If you choose to go the route of condoms, if you’re a guy and you just want free condoms, sign up; you have access to free condoms, you meet with a provider and that is something that even males have access to.”
When setting up the collaboration with Path4You, Getts said that there was a lot of open communication with the organization and that they were happy to partner with her and Britt. She said Path4You was excited to have the opportunity to come to campus and present information and resources to the community.
“A big barrier to public health is messaging and getting those messages across. The resources are very often in existence and established. It’s easier to get to the resources once you know about them,” Getts said. “But that first initial introduction of the resource is a big concern. There’s a lot of people [who] don’t know what the resources are out there. So to be able to connect Path4You with this disadvantaged community, it’s been a really interesting experience.”
Britt said one thing she learned during this project was how difficult networking can be in public health and that the first step is going the extra mile to reach out to people. For Getts, a lot of that networking involved extensive follow-ups because people in the public health industry are overworked but passionate and willing to help when people reach out to them. But through this learning experience, Britt and Getts have decided they want to continuously help Path4You collaborate with UIndy.
“… We’re looking at possibly seeing if the university would be willing to pair with Path4You to once a month bring a representative on campus or hire a peer counselor for the clinic that connects them in office. If they come in and they’re looking for birth control, it pairs them with a peer counselor in the health clinic…,” Britt said. “We’ve seen through some research that we’ve done that this has been highly successful at some other universities, and it is not widespread yet. But I think that as the word gets out there and as more of these organizations come to fruition, it will be more widespread.”