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CDC Data Provide Insights on the Risk of HIV & STDs Among Nation’s Youth

June 14, 2018 – 2017 YRBS: CDC Finds Fewer U.S. High School Students are Having Sex and Using Some Illicit Drugs – Still, Far Too Many Remain at Risk for HIV & STDs

The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) paints a promising picture about the drug and sexual behaviors U.S. high school students report, but the findings leave room for concern – especially among groups of young people who report multiple health risks.

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These high-resolution, public domain images are ready to download and print in your publication. Click on a graphic to see it in high-resolution. For your convenience, we have included a table that contains the specific data from the report used to generate these charts. These images are in the public domain and are thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy, we ask that the content provider be credited and notified of any public or private usage of an image.

Trends in Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Youth: 2001-2017
The line graph shows trends in sexual risk behaviors (ever had sex, had four or more lifetime sexual partners, and used a condom during last sexual intercourse) among high school students from 2001 to 2017, the most recent year available. In 2001, 45.6 percent of students reported had sex in their lifetime. This number peaked in 2007, with 47.8 percent of students reporting ever had sex and decreased to 39.5 percent in 2017.  In 2001, 14.2 percent of students reported having four or more lifetime sexual partners. This number peaked in 2011, with 15.3 percent of students reporting four or more lifetime sexual partners and decreased to 9.7 percent in 2017. In 2001, 57.9 percent of students reported using a condom during last sexual intercourse. This number peaked in 2003, with 63 percent of students reporting using a condom during last sexual intercourse and decreased to 53.8 percent in 2017.

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In 2017, there was another decline in the percentage of high school students who report that they have ever had sex (39.5%) and those who have had four or more sexual partners (9.7%) – the lowest levels since CDC began conducting the survey in 1991. However, condom use among sexually active students has decreased in recent years. In 2017, 53.8% of students reporting using a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse.

Misuse of Prescription Opioids, 2017
This graphic depicts the first ever national estimate of prescription opioids misuse among U.S. high school students. The graphic reads. One in seven high school students misused prescription opioids in 2017.

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Available for the first time, the survey found that 14% of U.S. high school students (1 in 7) reported misusing prescription opioids. The misuse of prescription opioids can lead to overdose as well as injection drug use, which increases the risk for HIV.

Youth Face Unequal Risks
This graphic depicts a finding from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance: Youth face unequal risks. While the national picture is improving in many areas, there are still groups of vulnerable youth experiencing unacceptable levels of poor mental health, violence, drug use and sexual risk.”

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Although adolescents are in good health overall, clear risks remain. The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey paints a promising picture about the drug and sexual behaviors U.S. high school students report, but the findings leave room for concern.

Spokespersons

Robert R. Redfield, MD

Robert R. Redfield, MD

“The health of our youth reflects the nation’s wellbeing. In the past decade, there have been substantial improvements in the behaviors that put students most at risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. However, we can’t yet declare success when so many young people are getting HIV and STDs, and experiencing disturbingly high rates of substance use, violence, and suicide.”
– Robert R. Redfield, MD, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Jonathan Mermin, M.D.

Jonathan Mermin

“Today’s youth are making better decisions about their health than just a decade ago. But, some experiences, such as physical and sexual violence, are outside their control and continue at painfully high levels. Their experiences today have powerful implications for their lives tomorrow.”
Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention

Kathleen Ethier, Ph.D

Kathleen Ethier, PhD

“We know that being connected to schools and safe adults is key to protecting the health of adolescents. Students are more likely to thrive if they feel safe and have a sense of belonging – and if they have parents, adults, teachers, and friends who they know care about their success.”
– Kathleen Ethier, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health

J. Michael Underwood, Ph.D

Michael Underwood, Ph.D

“YRBS data help us identify newly emerging behaviors among the nation’s youth, while also tracking long-term behaviors over time.”
-J. Michael Underwood, Ph.D., chief of the School-Based Surveillance Branch within CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health

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