Leslie Kantor of Planned Parenthood on HIV-Related Risk among U.S. High School Students
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on HIV-related risk among U.S. high school students is highly encouraging, illustrating that progress on health disparities can be made with education and access to health care services.
“As the report shows, sexual risk behaviors among African-American teens have declined dramatically over the last 20 years. Key data includes:
· In 1991, black students were nearly two-thirds more likely to have had sexual intercourse and almost three times as likely to report having multiple partners, as compared to white students. By 2011, the disparity between black and white students who ever had sex was cut in half, and the difference in the likelihood of having multiple sex partners declined even more (58 percent).
· Black teens have significantly increased their condom use, and now use condoms at higher rates (65percent) than Hispanic teens (58 percent) and white teens (60 percent).
“As a result, we’ve seen a significant narrowing of the gap in risk disparities between black teens and other groups of teens. But the research also clearly shows there is much more work to do.
“Unfortunately, progress has stalled in the overall number of teens who have ever had sex, are having sex without condoms, or who have multiple sexual partners — all behaviors that can lead to the spread of HIV. In addition, the number of students nationwide being taught about HIV/AIDs has declined by eight percent over the past 14 years. These findings reflect a clear need for teens to have better access to comprehensive sex education in schools that addresses the needs of today’s youth, coupled with increased access to health care services, including HIV testing.
“As a trusted provider of sex education and sexual and reproductive health services, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand that reaching youth with school-based sex education, which includes HIV prevention information, can help reduce sexual risk behaviors among teens. Clearly, this is not the time to reduce much needed access to sex education, testing or treatment services. The report makes clear that in order to continue reducing the rates of HIV infection and treatment, we must redouble our efforts to make sexuality education — which includes information about preventing HIV — widespread in schools and online, and increase access to essential health care services if we truly want to reach our goal of reducing HIV among youth.”