August 8, 2012
Black high school students in Florida have made marked improvements in reducing sexual risk behaviors, mirroring progress seen nationally among black youths. Nationally, racial disparities for risk behaviors between blacks and youths of other ethnicities persisted but narrowed, CDC reported during the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington.
Between 1991 and 2011 nationally, black students in ninth through 12th grades showed a 26.8 percent decline for those reporting ever having had sex, a 30.5 percent drop in the number who reported being sexually active, a 41.8 percent decline for having multiple partners, and a 35.4 percent increase for condom use.
Florida Department of Health statistics for black teen sexual activity only go back to 2001, but the state saw a similar, less dramatic trend, said Meredith Jagger, the department's youth survey coordinator. Over a 10-year period in Florida, black high school students reported a 10.9 percent drop in the number who had had sex, a 15.4 percent decline in those with multiple partners, and an 18.2 percent drop in ongoing sexual activity. There was no statistical change for condom use, Jagger said.
In Florida, progress among white and Hispanic students stalled, though white students showed a 4.9 percent gain in reported condom use.
"I think what's going on in the African-American community as a whole is that they've just been bombarded with education and what's going on with the AIDS epidemic," said Larry Lamb, clinical director for The Pantry of Broward. It took longer to mobilize resources and information for the black community, which may be why black students now are doing better while progress among their peers has stagnated, he said.