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Condom use among teens increases, while risky sexual behaviors decrease

Unprotected sexual activity among teenagers is an ongoing public health concern when it comes to spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes. In particular, health officials are focused on decreasing the rates of HIV in the younger population.

Since 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has observed a decrease in how many black high school students engaged in risky sexual behavior that could increase their chance of getting HIV. This includes the proportion of students who had sexual relations, had sex specifically within the last three months and had four or more sexual partners. In each of these categories, rates most significantly declined among black teenagers, when compared to white students of the same age group.

In addition, researchers found that increasingly more teenagers used condoms to protect themselves against STDs and prevent pregnancy.

These results are a step in the right direction, but it does not mean that public health officials can take a break, as reported by Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Prevention.

"We’re encouraged by the progress we see over time in reducing HIV-related risk behaviors, especially among black youth, but we have more to do," said Fenton. "Risk behavior remains far too high among all students, and it’s clear that to realize our goal of an AIDS-free generation, parents, schools and communities will need to intensify efforts to ensure that every young person in America knows about HIV and how to prevent infection."

Approximately four out of every 10 new HIV cases each year in the U.S. are diagnosed in individuals younger than 30, which indicates that public health officials should focus on spreading awareness among the younger generation. However, study results show that, with less participation in risky behaviors, the country is heading in the right direction. 
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