Maine ranks 6th nationally in ‘sexual health’

Posted Jan. 07, 2013, at 2:29 p.m.

Maine ranks sixth in the nation in “sexual health,” according to a new report compiled by a New Hampshire researcher.

The report ranked the sexual health of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, based on 26 measures. The Sexual Health Rankings index included traditional indicators, such as rates of sexually transmitted infections and births to teen mothers, but also reflects wider measures of sexual well-being, including relationship status, state laws on same-sex marriage and hate crimes, and sex education in schools.

The Northeast performed well, with Vermont topping the list, Connecticut ranking second and New Hampshire third. Mississippi ranked the worst in sexual health.

The report’s author is Martin Downs, a Lebanon, N.H.-based public health expert and journalist who pens a sex advice column for Penthouse magazine called “Carnal Knowledge.” Downs has a master’s degree in public health from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, according to the website for his consulting business, Variance LLC.

Downs based the rankings on the World Health Organization’s definition of sexual health, which encompasses wellness, human rights, sexual expression and identity, and sexual pleasure, he said in a press release.

“Sexual health is an essential part of health — each individual person’s health, and the health of society as a whole,” he said. “Sexual health relates to many different parts of the body, aspects of life, and areas of society, in ways that aren’t always obvious.”

Maine ranked first in the nation on five of the 26 measures, including state laws related to abortion, sex education and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The state’s worst showing, 38th nationally, was on the percentage of people aged 18-64 who reported ever receiving an HIV test.

Downs partnered with The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, a Rhode Island nonprofit, on the report.

The rankings are available at sexualhealthrankings.com.

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