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In Brief: Rationale for Key Sexual Health Services (SHS) for PS13-1308

In 2010, young people aged 13–24 accounted for 26% of all new HIV infections in the United States, and nearly half of the 19 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STD) reported each year are among young people aged 15–24. Many adolescents engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in such unintended health outcomes. For example, among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2013, almost half reported ever having had sex. Of those sexually active in the previous 3 months, about 40% did not use a condom. Clinical services can help prevent new cases of HIV and other STDs by increasing testing, treating infections, and reducing risk behaviors.

Several national guidelines for adolescent preventive care specifically include recommendations for the provision of sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents including:

  • HIV testing beginning at age 13 in areas more affected by HIV.
  • Gonorrhea and chlamydia screening of sexually active females ages 25 and under.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination beginning at ages 11–12.

Despite these official guidelines and recommendations, adolescents may not seek or have access to health services because of unique barriers that particularly hinder use of sexual health services.

Schools in the United States have a critical role to play in facilitating delivery of such needed preventive services for adolescents:

  • Schools are an appropriate venue for HIV, STD, and teen pregnancy prevention programs.
  • Schools have direct daily contact with almost 15 million students attending grades 9-12.
  • Many schools have healthcare service infrastructure in place.

For these reasons, one of CDC-Division of Adolescent and School (DASH)’s key programmatic strategies is to improve schools’ capacity to increase adolescents’ access to key preventive sexual health services via either direct provision of on-site services or referrals to adolescent-friendly community-based health service providers.

Further information on the rationale for key sexual health services, including a comprehensive summary (with text references) is available at Rationale for Program 1308 Approaches [pdf 162K].


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