YRBS: Big Decreases over Last 12 Years

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV infection), alcohol and other drug use, tobacco use, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and inadequate physical activity. The system includes a national school-based survey conducted by CDC, as well as state, territorial, tribal, and local surveys.

The most recent report, released June 13, shows significant decreases in a number of sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and STIs between 1991 and 2013:

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One significant increase of note: condom use! Among currently sexually active students, 59% reported that either they or their partner used a condom during the last time they had sexual intercourse. That’s a big jump from 1991, when just 46% reported the same.

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The YRBS is a valuable source of important information. If you use it in you work, please let us know how in the comment section!

 

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Applauding AAP’s Policy Statement on Condom Use by Adolescents

Pat Paluzzi, DrPH

Pat Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH

Healthy Teen Network applauds the American Academy of Pediatric’ s recently released policy statement on Condom Use Among Adolescents. The policy statement offers a thorough background and description of condom use in the United States and provides relevant recommendations for the field.

Healthy Teen Network is particularly pleased to see the ecological approach to promoting condom use endorsed within this statement. The recognition of parents, schools, and peer networks supports our belief in the social ecological health promotion frame as the best approach to create sustained healthy behaviors among young people.

Within this statement, AAP once again dispels the myth that making condoms available increases sexual behavior, and the AAP provides even more compelling support for sexuality education. Condoms are an important part of healthy sexual activity among all age groups, and given the rates of unintended pregnancies and STIs among young people, they are a critical component of promoting healthy choices among this age group.

Pat Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, is President/CEO of Healthy Teen Network.

I Love it When You Say the C-word

Vanessa Geffrard

In the midst of reviewing  all the wonderful and inspiring coverage from the recent International AIDS Conference, I stumbled upon an article citing that C-word use is high among teens, 16% higher now than it was in 1991, to be exact!

WOWZERS!

What great news!

Oh, not that C- word….

I mean condoms!  I am beaming with excitement knowing that teens want to protect themselves and want access to resources that enable them to make the safest choices. Reading the article was not only inspiring for the work I am devoted to, but it also made me think about what more needs to be done for our young people when fighting HIV/AIDS and creating this AIDS Free Generation that many leaders are discussing this week.

Currently, 60% of sexually active high schoolers have used condoms the last time they had sex, up from 46% in 1991 (but down a bit from 2003). You might be asking, “Vanessa, why is this so exciting for you?” It’s amazing, awe-inspiring, and the best thing ever because the work that we do whether it be as a volunteer,  a person who likes to give out condoms to their friends, an HIV test coordinator, health teacher, artist, or educator–the work we are doing with young people is working! Something that we are doing and saying is making a difference to our young people. Someone out there is not falling asleep during your condom demos and young people are listening to us when we give them up-to-date, evidence-based resources, education, and frank conversation about their sexual lives– something so natural and something that needs to be protected.

As shown throughout the coverage of the International AIDS Conference , however, is that we have GOT to do better. We’re doing great, but we can do more in light of the CDC reporting that four of every 10 new HIV infections occurs in people younger than 30. This is still too many in our fight to create an AIDS-free generation. I believe that our efforts are working and we have to keep up the good fight. We all know the money is needed to help in the fight, but what else do we need?

I don’t have all the answers, but I offer the following as some possible approaches to add to the mix:

  • Real talk and evidence-based comprehensive education about sex and sexual health in our society. We need to teach our young people how to communicate with partners and what to do in intimate situations when it comes to protecting themselves–even if they are not yet sexually active.
  •  Condoms are not the enemy. What happened to “common” portrayals of people like TLC having condoms in their videos? (Even Snoop Dogg discussed the consequences of STIs if condoms weren’t worn with lady friends!) I may be dating myself, but I feel that the wonderful world of condoms needs to be mainstream. It is FINE for a young man or woman (gasp!) to carry condoms! We carry other paraphernalia to protect ourselves from other elements, but what about pregnancy? STIs? HIV? —Condoms are our friends here, people! And we shouldn’t stigmatize a young person when they become empowered enough to carry them and use them to protect themselves.

I could write  a book on my personal opinions, but I know you also have valuable thoughts on this important subject! What do you think?  What would you add to the mix that would help our young people make responsible sexual decisions  and encourage them to use condoms consistently and correctly?

Vanessa Geffrard is a Training and Technical Assistance Associate at Healthy Teen Network.

Free Condoms on Prom Night?

It was reported recently that a small public high school in Brooklyn, NY, would be making free condoms available at its upcoming prom. Condoms are already available for students of this school through its sex education program, according to the New York Times.

Darryl Rascoe, the school’s principal, told MSNBC, “As they leave the prom, they are welcome to it. We are not forcing it on anybody, but we want them to have that option.”

Since this news first hit the papers, plans to distribute the condoms have been scrapped. “I don’t want to do anything against DOE policy,” Rascoe said in an ABC interview.

In the MSNBC article, it was noted that “the prom condom distribution plan [would have been] accompanied by a safe sex school assembly sponsored by the condom maker a few days before the prom.” An essay contest on safe sex was also to be held and judged by the school’s English department. Parents had been notified about the plan, and the principal noted that he didn’t know of any opposition. That was until the story picked up steam and opponents and supporters alike voiced their opinions on the matter.

What do you think about offering free condoms on prom night? Good idea or bad? Take the poll and add your comments below!

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