Youth in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Print

There are over one billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 worldwide, most of who live in low- to middle-income countries. The reproductive and sexual health decisions young people make today affect their present, their future, and ultimately the health and the well-being of their nations.

Young people, particularly young women, face significant challenges that obstruct them from meeting their full potential. About 90 percent of the total adolescent births worldwide occur in these countries. Complications from pregnancy (including unsafe childbirth and unsafe abortion) are the leading cause of death for young women ages 15-19 in low- to middle-income countries. And at least 95 percent of all new HIV infections worldwide occur here.

Sexually active youth in low- to middle-income countries need access to comprehensive sex education and confidential, low-cost, and youth-friendly reproductive and sexual health services. Societies—meaning governments, communities, teachers, health providers, parents, the media, and young people themselves, among others - have the responsibility to ensure an environment where young people can access comprehensive reproductive and sexual health information and confidential services to make healthy choices, free of stigma and discrimination.

Read on for facts and statistics and visit the sections on programming and advocacy in low- to middle-income countries.

If you are conducting research on adolescent reproductive and sexual health in the Global South, check out Advocates’ Adolescent Sexual Health in the Global South Research Guide for the most recent news, scholarly research, and publications from a variety of sources.

General Facts


Adolescent Pregnancy and Childbearing

Harmful Cultural Practices

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