Fewer US High School Students Are Learning About HIV/AIDS

CDC Report on Youth Risk Behavior Shows Alarming Drop in HIV/AIDS Education in Schools

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which tracks everything from seat belt utilization to tobacco use among America’s youth.  While the report showed improvements among many risk factors, the percentage of U.S. high school students who had learned about HIV/AIDS in school dropped from 91.5 percent in 1997 to 84 percent in 2011.  At the same time, only 60 percent of young people reported using a condom during their last sexual encounter.

“With young people, especially young gay men, facing such a heavy burden of HIV, today’s data further instructs the nation to do more to educate youth about sexual health,” said National Minority AIDS Council Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Kali Lindsey.  “In 2009, young people aged 13 to 29 accounted for 39 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S.  Young gay men alone accounted for 27 percent of all new infections and young black gay men saw an alarming 48 percent spike in HIV infections between 2006 and 2009.  Despite these disturbing trends, Congress cut funding for the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health by 25 percent ($10 million) last year, while restoring funding for ineffective abstinence-only education programs.  Just two months ago, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health updated its list of evidence-based programs to include the controversial Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education program.”

“More than 8,000 young people in the U.S. aged 13 to 24 were newly infected with HIV in 2009,” added Lindsey.  “Half of all new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are among young people aged 15 to 24.  As such, it is critical that we provide comprehensive and evidence-based sexual education to our youth before they become sexually active.  Today’s report from the CDC shows that we are failing our children.  We must do better.”


Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622, ex. 333