While there has been a decline in teens reporting being sexually active, the rates of sexually transmitted infections among teens and young adults remains a concern in the U.S., experts said.
In 2013, 47 percent of U.S. high school students report having had sexual intercourse, a decline from 54 percent in 1991, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports.
Despite the drop, one quarter of the new cases of HIV infections in the U.S. were among people aged 13 to 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Half of the nearly 20 million new STDs reported each year are among young people aged 15 to 24, the CDC reports.
Young women are of particular concern, said Lynn Sosa, a deputy state epidemiologist with the state Department of Public Health.
“While having sex at a younger age is one risk factor for acquiring an STD, younger women are also at increased risk because the vaginal tissue is biologically more susceptible to acquiring an STD,” she said. “Several national organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend annual screening of women [less than] 25 years old for chlamydia and gonorrhea to detect unrecognized infections and prevent the long-term complications of these infections.”
In 2015, a higher percentage of females in Connecticut reported being sexually active than males did, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found. The statistics show 25.1 percent of the females were sexually active while 21.4 percent of the males surveyed said they were sexually active.
In the same survey, 46.4 percent of female youths reported not using a condom during their last sexual intercourse compared to 33.4 percent of males.
Latrise Malcolm, a teen from Hartford, said she has noticed that boys aren’t always truthful about sex.
“I feel like girls are at a higher risk since boys go around having sex but choose not to tell others that they have any type of disease,” Malcolm said.
Sosa said she remains hopeful that STD rates will decline among young people.
“While it is hard to predict the future, there is more education about sexual health and prevention of STDs targeting young people than in the past,” she said. “Through increased awareness and education, young people can be empowered to practice safe sex and prevent exposure to STDs.”
Jamel Furlow is a student at the Journalism & Media Academy in Hartford.