HIV and Youth: HIV Risk Behaviors

The risk of getting or transmitting HIV varies widely depending on the type of exposure or behavior, and many factors can increase or decrease HIV risk. Recent data from CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which monitors health behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth, reveal substance use before sex, low rates of condom use, and multiple sex partners.

Substance Use Among High School Students in the US, 2019

When a person is drunk or high, they are more likely to take risks such as having sex without using a condom.

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Source: CDC. National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

Condom Use Among High School Students in the US, 2019

Using condoms or taking medicine to prevent or treat HIV are highly effective prevention options.

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Source: CDC. National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

Multiple Sex Partners Among High School Students in the US, 2019

The more sex partners a person has, the more likely they are to have a sex partner who has HIV or another STD.

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Source: CDC. National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through anal or vaginal sex, or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment—for example, cookers. However, not every exposure to HIV carries the same risk, and some sexual activities are riskier than others.

Sexual Behaviors Among Young Gay and Bisexual Men in 23 US Cities, 2017*

A person can get or transmit HIV if they have anal sex without using HIV prevention options like condoms or medicines.

Injection Behaviors Among Youth Who Inject Drugs in 23 US Cities, 2018*

Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment puts people at high risk for HIV and other infections.
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