The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently analyzed data from Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) conducted between 1991 and 1997 to determine whether the prevalence of HIV-related sexual risk behaviors among high school students in urban areas decreased in recent years. The findings were published in the September issue of the Journal of School Health
Researchers analyzed data collected from self-report questionnaires given to high school students in Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Jersey City, NJ; Miami, FL; and San Diego, CA during 1991, 93, 95, and 97. Data from respondents in Boston, MA was not available for 1991, but is included for each of the other years. Similarly, data from respondents in Philadelphia, PA was included for each year excluding 1993.
Students in all but one of these eight U.S. cities demonstrated a significant improvement in at least one HIV-related sexual risk behavior.
- The proportion of sexually experienced students (defined as ever having had sexual intercourse) decreased significantly in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Fort Lauderdale. For example, in 1991, 55.5% of students in Fort Lauderdale reported being sexually experienced as compared to 50.4% in 1997.
- The prevalence of multiple sexual partners (defined as four or more lifetime partners) among students decreased significantly in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Fort Lauderdale. For example, in 1991, 29.8% of respondents in Chicago reported multiple sexual partners compared to 19.9% in 1997.
- From 1991-97 the proportion of students who reported current sexual activity (sexual intercourse during the three months prior to the survey) decreased in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, and Philadelphia. For example, in 1991, 50.7% of respondents in Philadelphia reported being currently sexually active compared to 46.7% in 1997.
- Condom use among currently sexually active students increased significantly in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Jersey City, Miami, and Philadelphia. For example, in 1991, 48.5% of respondents in Dallas reported condom use during last sexual intercourse as compared to 60.8% in 1997.
The findings suggest that the behavior of urban students parallels recent national trends that show decreases in sexual experience and multiple sexual partners as well as an increase in condom use among students. The CDC states that, "despite the reductions in risk for HIV infection among urban adolescents, many remain at risk." The CDC suggests community interventions to reinforce school-based HIV-prevention education and provide additional services to adolescents in urban communities.
For more information:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Trends in HIV-Related Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students-Selected U.S. Cities, 1991-1997," Journal of School Health, September 1999, V. 69 n. 7, pp. 255-57.