Sexual Risk Behaviors: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in unintended health outcomes. For example, among U.S. high school students surveyed in 20131
- 47% had ever had sexual intercourse.
- 34% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
- 41% did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
- 15% had had sex with four or more people during their life.
- Only 22% of sexually experienced students have ever been tested for HIV.*
Sexual risk behaviors place adolescents at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy:
- Nearly 10,000 young people (aged 13-24) were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States in 2013.2
- Young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and 72% of new HIV infections among youth in 2010.3
- Nearly half of the 20 million new STDs each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 to 24.4
- Approximately 273,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15–19 years in 2013.5
To reduce sexual risk behaviors and related health problems among youth, schools and other youth-serving organizations can help young people adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support their health and well-being—including behaviors that reduce their risk for HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for all Americans to be educated about HIV. This includes knowing how HIV is transmitted and prevented, and knowing which behaviors place individuals at greatest risk for infection. HIV awareness and education should be universally integrated into all educational environments.
*CDC recommends all adolescents and adults 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine medical care.
CDC Programs & Initiatives
CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health addresses HIV, other STDS, and teen pregnancy through
- Data collection and analysis
- Science-based guidance
- Funding to state and local departments of education and national nongovernmental organizations
- Communicating successful state and local interventions for adoption by other programs
Abstinence from vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy. The correct and consistent use of male latex condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission, including HIV infection. However, no protective method is 100% effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD or pregnancy.
- CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2013. MMWR 2014;63(SS-4).
- CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and dependent areas, 2014. HIV Surveillance Report, Volume 26.
- CDC. Estimated HIV incidence in the United States, 2007-2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(No. 4).
- Satterwhite CL, et al. Sexually transmitted infections among U.S. women and men: Prevalence and incidence estimates, 2008. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2013; 40(3): pp. 187-193.
- Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, Curtin SC, Mathews TJ. Births: final data for 2013. National Vital Statistics Report. 2015;64(1).
- Page last reviewed: February 16, 2016
- Page last updated: April 15, 2016
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