This strategic plan from the New York State AIDS Institute presents data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (“YRBS”) about New York youth’s sexual health behaviors and risks, and it provides guidance to ensure accurate sexual health information and quality health services are made available to all New York State youth.
Notably, over 60% of high school students reported having sexual intercourse by grade 12, and more than 1 in 5 reported having sexual intercourse by grade 9. Of those reporting sexual activity, 36.7% did not use a condom during last sexual intercourse; the report notes one in four will have had an STD by age 21. New HIV diagnoses among male youth ages 15-24 have almost doubled from 2002 to 2008; the increase is primarily due to a rise in new infections among young men of color who have sex with men.
The report proposes cross-sector collaboration on seven focused goals:
1. promoting continuity of evidence-based and medically accurate health education across the state;
2. reducing the rate of HIV/STD infections;
3. reducing the rate of unintended teen pregnancy;
4. making available school-based HIV/STD testing and screening through school-based health centers;
5. promoting healthy and safe relationships and decision making;
6. increasing knowledge of and access to contraception and other sexual health services; and
7. educating professionals and youth about the difference between healthy and abusive sexual relationships.
Although the report notes the higher rates of sexual activity and pregnancy among youth “with special circumstances,” such as those in foster care, the goals are largely school-based, offering few strategies to reach youth under state care, or those who may otherwise experience school push-out.