Teenagers Having Sex

Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC‘s (Centers for Disease Control) National Center for HIV/AIDS, speaking at AIDS 2012, speaking at an international conference of more than 21,000 researchers and organizers in Washington indicated that some of the news about teenagers having sex is positive. In particular, black high school students have dramatically reduced sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV infection over the past 20 years, helping to narrow the gap in risky behaviors between them and white students.

Key changes from 1991 to 2011 include:

•The proportion of American high school students who have ever had sex fell from 54% to 47%. Among blacks, the proportion who have ever had sex fell even more sharply, from 82% to 60%.

•The proportion of students who had sex within the past three months declined from 38% to 34% overall. Among blacks, that number fell from 59% to 41%.

•The proportion of students who had four or more sexual partners decreased from 19% to 15%. Among blacks, that proportion fell from 43% to 25%.

•Among sexually active students, the proportion who used a condom the last time they had sex increased from 46% to 60%. Among black students, that rate grew from 48% to 65%.

With “perfect use,” condoms can prevent almost all HIV infections. In the real world, they prevent about 80% of transmissions, studies show.

Significantly, the number of new HIV infections — which has fallen sharply from the peak in the mid-1990s — also has plateaued over the past decade, at about 50,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the average age at which teens begin having sex — 16 — hasn’t changed in 20 years.

HIV rates are also skyrocketing among specific populations, such as gay black youth. Nearly 6% of gay black men under 30 are newly infected with the AIDS virus each year, according to a study presented Monday, with one in four black gay men infected by age 25.

Research now strongly links HIV infection in the USA with poverty and social issues such as homelessness, incarceration, lack of education, racial discrimination and homophobia.