Survey finds big drop in sexual activity among black teens

By Randy Dotinga, HealthDay Reporter
Survey finds big drop in sexual activity among black teens
But overall, U.S. teens of all racial, ethnic groups as sexually active as a decade ago.

(HealthDay) -- Black teenagers in the United States have become much less sexually active over the past two decades, and those who do have sex appear to be more likely to use condoms, a new survey has found.

The declines are "dramatic," said report author Laura Kann, who studies for the U.S. .

The numbers don't disclose anything about why black teens might have changed their behavior. "This tells us what kids do, but not why," Kann said.

Overall, teens of all racial and ethnic groups are about as sexually active as they were a decade ago. And the rate of condom use by teens -- just six in 10 used them the last time they had sex -- hasn't changed much since the 1990s.

By contrast, the numbers for black teens are strikingly different. The percentage who reported ever fell from 82 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011. Kann said the numbers coincide with drops in and births.

Increased education about HIV/AIDS among blacks, leadership in the black community and a public health focus on could explain the change, Kann said.

The new CDC teen-sex survey also reveals that:

  • The percentages of students who've had sex have remained fairly stable over the last 20 years for (49 percent in 2011) and whites (44 percent in 2011).
  • Overall, 47 percent of all teens surveyed said they'd ever had sex, down from 54 percent in 1991. The rate has barely changed since 2001.
  • About one-third of students said they'd had sex within the past three months, and 15 percent said they'd had sex with four or more partners.
  • The percentage of sexually active teens who use condoms grew from 46 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011, although the number hasn't changed much in recent years. Black teens are more likely to use condoms: their rate is 65 percent.

The recent stabilization of could have something to do with less focus on HIV, which has largely become a treatable disease, Kann said. Also, "the percentage of high school students overall who have had HIV education has dropped since 1997. That hasn't helped any either."

The new survey results come from the CDC's National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of students in grades 9 through 12 from both public and private schools. About 15,000 students take the surveys each year.

Jennifer Manlove, area director of Fertility and Family Structure with the Child Trends advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said the survey shows that much of the evolution toward less sexual activity occurred in the 1990s, even among black teens.

"There's been a little bit more since 2000, but not really that much. The big news in the 1990s was the real focus on the AIDS epidemic and a lot of attention given to that," she said.

Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, said the study "is a mix of good news and persistent causes for concern."

Nearly half of teens in this country are still sexually active, "and a third or more (of those) did not use most recently," he said. "This means that a very large population of our young people remains vulnerable to all of the perils of unprotected sex, HIV included. So this report is not a cause for celebration. It tells of a job that can be done when we address it well, and of a mission far from accomplished that deserves our more devoted attention."

He added: "No child should get HIV because our society is squeamish about the readily available means of preventing that."

The findings were scheduled to be released Tuesday at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., and published in the 's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information: For more about teen sexual health, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

More US teens postponing sex: study

May 03, 2012

More US teenagers are postponing sex than in 1995, and hormonal contraceptive use is up among those who are sexually active, said US health authorities on Thursday.

Report says teens don't often use condoms

Aug 03, 2006

A study has found most sexually active U.S. teenagers do not use condoms, placing themselves at a higher risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases.

Study: unprotected sex common among teens

Aug 24, 2006

A study by Brown University in Providence, R.I., has suggested that U.S. teenagers use condoms more often with casual partners than with a main partner.

US teen births decline: study

Apr 05, 2011

The US teen birth rate fell to the lowest level on record in 2009 but remains one of the highest in developed countries, a report released Tuesday said.

80 percent of US boys use condoms the first time

Oct 12, 2011

A surprising 80 percent of teenage boys say they are using condoms the first time they have sex, a government survey found in a powerful sign that decades of efforts to change young people's sexual behavior ...

Recommended for you

US judge overturns state's abortion law (Update)

13 hours ago

A federal judge on Wednesday overturned a North Dakota law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they're pregnant.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Picard
not rated yet Jul 25, 2012
Give a boy an X-Box and the girls can go pleasure themselves.