It’s National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. (I know you marked your calendar for this one.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied behaviors of teens and found that the good news is that high school students are less sexually active and engaging in less risky sexual behaviors, but here’s one statistic that will startle you:
40 percent of sexually active high school students said they did not use a condom the last time they had sex
That takes my breath away.
The data, which looked at the years 2005 to 2015, also shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual teens are at greater risk for what it calls a “negative health outcome.” It urges that some of the education be specifically tailored to those teens, as well as provide access to education, tools, treatment and care for all teens.
People in ages 13-24 also don’t get tested for HIV as regularly as compared with other age groups. Only 10 percent of sexually experienced high school students had been tested for HIV. The 13-24 age range also makes up 22 percent of new HIV diagnoses.
So what can be done?
When you talk to your kids about sex (and you are talking to them, right?), remind them that condoms are part of the requirement every time.
Find out what kind of sex education your child is getting in his/her school. The CDC found that “in most states, fewer than half of high schools teach all 16 topics recommended by CDC.” And make sure you supplement it.