New data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicate the percentage of high school students who are sexually active has been decreasing since 1991, with it dropping from 38% in 1991 to 30% in 2015.
- However, the data indicate that among high school students who are currently sexually active, condom use decreased from 63% in 2003 to 57% in 2015, following more than a decade of increases that peaked in the early 2000s. Condom use decreased slightly from 2013 (59%) to 2015 (57%), the data suggest.
- Fewer teens report formal education about reproduction health. In a separate analysis, half of teen females and 58% of teen males reported they received formal instruction about how to use a condom.
[Editor’s note: This information first was reported on June 13 as breaking news on our publisher’s website, reliasmedia.com. Keep up with breaking healthcare news on that website and on Twitter @HospitalReport.]
New data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) indicate the percentage of high school students who are currently sexually active has been decreasing since 1991, with it dropping from 38% in 1991 to 30% in 2015.1
According to the new statistics, current sexual activity, defined as having had sexual intercourse during the past three months, decreased from 34% in 2013 to 30% in 2015. The national surveillance system, maintained by the CDC, is designed to monitor a wide range of priority health risk behaviors among representative samples of high school students at the national, state, and local levels.
However, when it comes to condom use, the data indicate that among high school students who are currently sexually active, condom use decreased from 63% in 2003 to 57% in 2015, following more than a decade of increases that peaked in the early 200 0s. Condom use decreased slightly from 2013 (59%) to 2015 (57%), the data indicate.1
“This year’s YRBS report clearly shows that fewer high school students are engaging in some important health risk behaviors, but we still have some progress to make,” notes Stephanie Zaza, MD, MPH FACPM, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
Testing for HIV has dropped slightly among high school students, survey results suggest. Nationwide, 10% of all students had ever been tested for HIV, which is a decrease from 13% in 2011 and 2013.1
Are Teens Getting Info?
If condom use has dropped among U.S. teens, it may be due to lack of education about the subject. According to a new analysis of survey results from the CDC’s National Survey for Family Growth (NSFG), many teens in the United States are not receiving formal sex education, and fewer teens now than in the past are being exposed to timely information about a range of sex education topics.2
Analysts with the New York City-based Guttmacher Institute looked at data on teens ages 15-19 from the 2006-2010 and 2011-2013 rounds of the national survey. They determined that between the two survey periods, the proportion of teens who reported receiving formal education about birth control decreased from 70% to 60% among females and from 61% to 55% among males. Overall, in 2011-2013, 43% of teen girls and 57% of teen boys did not receive information about birth control before they had sex for the first time.
Formal instruction may not be skills-based, the data suggest. Half of teen females and 58% of teen males reported they received formal instruction about how to use a condom.2
Some teens may get information from a parent: 70% of male teens and 78% of females said they had talked with a parent about at least one of six sex education topics: how to say no to sex, methods of birth control, sexually transmitted infections, where to get birth control, how to prevent HIV infection, and how to use a condom. However, young women said they were more likely than young men to talk with their parents about all sexual health topics except how to use a condom; just 36% of teen girls reported such discussion, compared to 45% of boys.
“Relying on parents alone to provide teens with necessary information about sex is inadequate,” says Laura Lindberg, PhD, principal research scientist at the Institute and lead author of the research article. “Schools should provide medically accurate and comprehensive sex education, so teens have the information and skills they need to enjoy the best health possible.”
What Can You Do?
Healthcare providers can be an important resource when it comes to condom education.
According to Contraceptive Technology, encourage patients to practice using condoms. When providing instruction on how to use condoms, have patients unroll a condom onto a model of a penis or a banana, both with eyes open and then again in the dark. Offer to help patients select a condom that is most suitable to their needs, which may include the female condom. Many clinics now provide a variety of condoms in different sizes and textures to help patients find what works best for them.
Use the CDC’s fact sheet, Know Your Condom Dos and Don’ts, to help teens understand how to use a condom the right way every time. (Readers can access the free fact sheet at http://1.usa.gov/1UoyGs1.) Remind patients that a new condom must be used with every act of intercourse if any risk of pregnancy or STI exists. Also, condoms should be donned before any genital contact, with the condom unrolled all the way to the base of an erect penis. Immediately after ejaculation, the rim of the condom should be held while the penis is withdrawn, with the used condom disposed of safely.3
- Kann L, McManus T, Harris WA, et al. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ 2016; 65(No. SS-6):1-174.
- Lindberg LD, Maddow-Zimet I, Boonstra H. Changes in adolescents’ receipt of sex education, 2006-2013. J Adolesc Health 2016; 58(6):621-627.
- Warner L, Steiner MJ. Male condoms. In: Hatcher RA, Trussell J, Nelson AL, et al. Contraceptive Technology: 20th revised edition. New York: Ardent Media; 2011.