Safe sex progress stalls in teenagers

August 1, 2012

Have efforts to reduce HIV-related risk behaviors among high school students been successful? The latest data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention show that teens are practicing safer sex, but progress has stalled over the past decade.

Have efforts to reduce HIV-related risk behaviors among high school students been successful? The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that teens are practicing safer sex, but progress has stalled over the past decade.

Researchers at the CDC analyzed data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System biennial surveys for the period 1991 to 2011. Data obtained on public and private school students in grades 9 to 12 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia showed that, overall, the percentage of students who had ever had sexual intercourse declined significantly from 54% in 1991 to 47% in 2011, but it did not change significantly after reaching 46% in 2001. Sexual experience decreased significantly among boys, girls, blacks, and whites but not among Hispanics.

The prevalence of having 4 or more sex partners fell significantly from 19% in 1991 to 15% in 2011, but it did not change significantly after reaching 14% in 2001. Again, significant changes occurred in all groups except Hispanics.

From 1991 to 2011, the number of students currently having sexual activity decreased by 37% overall and among male, female, and black students. No change occurred among Hispanics and whites.

The number of sexually active students who reported using a condom during their last sexual encounter rose from 46% in 1991 to 63% in 2003, the peak year, and then declined to 60% in 2011.

In addition, injection drug use increased significantly among blacks and Hispanics from 1995 to 2011 but remained level overall.

Reducing the number of persons infected with HIV is a primary goal of the

. The CDC says that to achieve this goal, renewed educational efforts will be needed to reach all students before they become sexually active.

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