HIV and STD Prevention At A Glance

By the time young people graduate from high school, 38% have had sex. Forty-six percent of sexually active students did not use a condom the last time they had sex, and 21% drank alcohol or took drugs before their last sexual intercourse.1 Young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can have serious health consequences:

  • Approximately 21% of all new HIV diagnoses are among young people aged 13–24 years.2
  • Teens and young adults have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) of any age group.3
  • The birth rate for young women is declining, but remains higher than in other industrialized countries.4

Helping adolescents make healthy choices requires the involvement of families, communities, and many other sectors of society—and schools are an essential part of that effort. There were 56 million students in the United States in 2020.5,6

Over 90% of students attend a public or private school for at least 6 hours a day during the most critical years of their social, physical, and intellectual development. The school environment is also a key setting in which students’ behaviors and ideas are shaped. Just as schools are critical to preparing students academically and socially, they are also vital partners in helping young people take responsibility for their health and adopt health-enhancing attitudes and behaviors that can last a lifetime.

A female student sitting in front of a stack of books
What Works Icon: It includes delivering sexual health education, increasing access to sexual health services, and promoting safe and supportive environments.

CDC’s fact sheet series, Adolescent Health: What Works In Schools, assists schools with following a recommended approach to school-based HIV, STD, and unintended pregnancy prevention.

  1. CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2019. MMWR Suppl 2020;69(1):1-83.
  2. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018.pdf icon HIV Surveillance Report 2018 (Preliminary) 2019;30.
  3. CDC. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2018. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2019.
  4. Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK. Births: Final data for 2018. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 68, no 13.pdf icon Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.
  5. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Educations Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2020). Fast Facts: Back to school statisticsexternal icon. Washington, D.C.
  6. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Educations Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2020). The Condition of Education: Elementary and Secondary Enrollmentexternal icon. Washington, D.C.