This fact sheet summarizes data collected from 1991 to 2011 on sexual activity, pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV, and access to reproductive health services for teenagers and young adults. While greater efforts to provide sexual education and health services to this population have helped reduce rates of unplanned pregnancy and STIs, the United States remains behind most other developed countries in solving these problems.
In 2011, nearly half of all high school students surveyed reported having had sexual intercourse. Twenty-one percent of teenage females and 13 percent of teenage males report no contraception use at first intercourse. In 2009, only 30 percent of young adults ages 19 to 29 had reported taking an HIV test in the last year. Only 53 percent of females and 45 percent of males discussed contraception or STIs with their partner before their first time having sex. Though youth ages 15 to 24 make up only 25 percent of the sexually active population, they accounted for about half of the newly reported cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in 2011. In 2010, youth ages 13 to 24 accounted for 26 percent of newly reported HIV infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having an STI can put someone at two to five times higher risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity. Proper treatment of STIs can also reduce the risk of HIV transmission for people already affected by HIV. In light of this, there is a continued need for expanding access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, and quality sexual and reproductive health services for youth.