A new study compiled using data from the Centers for Disease Control National Youth Risk Behavior Survey has some good news and some bad news when it comes to teens and sex.
First the good news: More teens are are using condoms and practicing other safe sex practices than in previous years. According to the survey, students in grades 9-12 who said they used condoms the last time they had sex increased from 46 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011.
The survey also found that the percent of students who had four or more sex partners decreased from 19 percent in 1991 to 15 percent in 2011. And the percent of high school students who had never had sex declined from 54 percent in 1991 to 47 percent in 2011.
Now for the bad news. Even though the rates of sexual activity have declined, health experts are still concerned about the number of teens who are still having sex, particularly those who are not using condoms and having sex with more than one partner. People under the age of 30 currently represent four of every 10 new HIV infections.
In addition, these numbers are still an improvement from 20 years ago, but progress has either stalled or declined over the last decade. In comparison, in 2001, the number of teens who reported having four or more sexual partners was 14 percent, the number of teens using condoms was 63 percent, and the number of teens who had never had sex was 46 percent.
Another bit of bad news — and possibly the reason for the stalled progress — is that the number of U.S. high school students who have been taught about HIV and received sexual education in schools over the past decade has declined steadily due to budget cutbacks.
The CDC's findings were presented recently at the International AIDS conference in Washington, D.C.
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