Kahn Delivers Presidential Address to Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

Post Date: May 20, 2020

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Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Adolescent and Transition Medicine, serves as President of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM).

  • More than 30% of all new HIV infections globally occur among youth 15–25 years of age.
  • Young people aged 15–24 years account for half of the 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. each year.
  • Depression is the most common mental health disorder in adolescents and young adults, affecting nearly one in eight each year.
  • Chronic physical illnesses such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, and neurodevelopmental conditions affect 15%–20% of adolescents.
  • Firearm injuries from homicides and suicides are the leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults aged 12–24 years in the U.S.

“All of these conditions are inextricably linked to social determinants of health: conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age,” Kahn says. “Social determinants affect health outcomes, health risks, and quality of life and include neighborhoods, economic realities, education, social and community context, and health care. Those of us who care for adolescents have a deep understanding of the drivers of social determinants, including neighborhood crime and violence, poor access to health care, discrimination, incarceration, poverty, and food insecurity. And we understand that structural and systemic issues such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and ableism exacerbate and even cause many of these conditions.”

“So why should we feel inspired, despite these threats and the challenges we face in our work and in our society? Because we in adolescent health and medicine are in the unbelievably privileged position to be able to address them and create change.”

Read More in the Journal of Adolescent Health