Sexual Risk Behaviors Can Lead to HIV, STDs, & Teen Pregnancy
Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors and experiences that can result in unintended health outcomes.
CDC data show that lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students are at substantial risk for serious health outcomes as compared to their peers.
Among U.S. high school students surveyed in 20171
- 40% had ever had sexual intercourse.
- 10% had four or more sexual partners.
- 7% had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to.
- 30% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
- 46% did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
- 14% did not use any method to prevent pregnancy.
- 19% had drunk alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse.
- Less than 10% of all students have ever been tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Sexual risk behaviors place youth at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy:
- Half of the 20 million new STDs reported each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 to 24.3
- Teen Pregnancy
- Nearly 210,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15–19 years in 2016.4
School health programs can help young people adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support their health and well-being—including behaviors that can reduce their riskExternal for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
HIV, STD, and teen pregnancy prevention programs in schools should
- Provide health information that is basic, accurate, and directly contributes to health-promoting decisions and behaviors.
- Address the needs of youth who are not having sex as well as youth who are currently sexually active.
- Ensure that all youth are provided with effective education and skills to protect themselves and others from HIV infection, other STDs, and pregnancy.
- Be developed with the active involvement of students and parents.
- Be locally determined and consistent with community values and relevant policies.
The National HIV/AIDS StrategyExternal 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 educationCdc-pdf should be universally integrated into all educational environments.
The prevalence of some health behaviors remains high and puts youth at higher risk for negative health outcomes. CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health addresses HIV, other STDS, and teen pregnancy prevention through
- CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2017. MMWR Surveill Summ 2018;67(No. SS-8).
- CDC. Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2017Cdc-pdf. HIV Surveillance Report 2018, vol. 29; November 2017.
- CDC. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2016Cdc-pdf. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2017.
- Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK, Drake P. Births: Final data for 2016. National Vital Statistics Report Rep 2016Cdc-pdf; vol 67, no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.
- Final Update Summary: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection: ScreeningExternal. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. November 2018.
- CDC. Revised recommendations for HV testing of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women in health-care settings. MMWR 2006;55:1-17.